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Not only interesting but thought 
provocative from a 
professional point of view: 


Has science fiction come of age? Is THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY 
AND SCIENCE FICTION in the forefront of the field? We invite 
you to answer both questions for yourself after you read this extract 
from an unsolicited letter . . . 

'Tor several years now some of us in the Instrumentation Labora- 
tory have found science fiction not only interesting reading but also 
thought provocative from a professional point of view. In fact, from 
time to time we have seen fit to recommend certain stories to our 
graduate classes in Instrumentation and Control as worth-while extra 
reading. In particular one story, namely 'Superiority’ in your August 
1951 issue, by Arthur C. Clarke, has been particularly helpful in 
illustrating basic points on system design, test and operation.” 

WALTER WRIGLEY, Associate Director 
Instrumentation Laboratory 
Department of Aeronautical Engineering 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

The courses mentioned in this quotation were originally set up by Dr. C. S. Draper. 
Since Dr. Draper assumed the responsibility of Chairman of the Department of 
Aeronautical Engineering, Prof. Wrigley has taken over the teaching of these courses. 

THE M A q N t OP 


1st of Every Month 


Sctept<e Tiftion 


* * f 

Symbol dFi 
seol oppeors on ev« 
/of y 
f by' 

f' A 

ihr • r 


. Quarterly 


Monthly \ 

t . 



J * 

-* * ; 

5 « i 

■ * 






ISth of Every Month 


20th of Alternate Months 

■ /'-Nl 



Playground {short novelet^ 



Somewhere East of Rudyard 



% Mr. Makepeace 



The Other Alternative 



Arrangement in Green 



The Miracle of the Broom Closet 



Sanctuary {short novelef) 



Recommended Reading {a department) by the editors 


The Appraiser 



Call Me Adam 



The Immortal Game 



The Fun They Had 



Cover by Chesley Bonestell 

(^spaceship leaving the moon for Earth's artificial satellite^ 

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Volume 6, No. 2, Feb., 1954. Published monthly by Fantasy 
House, Inc., at 55c a copy. Annual subscription, $4.00 in U. S. and possessions ; $5.00 in all other countries. 
Publication ojfice. Concord, N. H. General offices, 570 Lexington Avenue, New Yorl{^ 22, N. Y. Editorial 
office, 2643 Dana St., Berkeley 4, Calif. Entered as second class matter at the Post Office at Concord, N. //., 
under the Act of March 3, 1879. Printed in U. S. A. Copyright, 1954, by Fantasy House, Inc. All rights, 
including translation into other languages, reserved. Submissions must be accompanied by stamped, self- 
addressed envelopes ; the Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts. 

Lawrence E. Spiva\, publisher Anthony Boucher & J. Francis McComas, editors 

Joseph W. Ferman, general manager Robert P. Mills, managing editor 

Charles Angoff, advisory editor George Salter, art director 

Guy Lombardo 

tells why he reads the Magazine of 

What I like about it,” says the famous bandleader 
and ace speedboater, ^^is the reabzation that the 
fiction I am reading now may very well be sohd 
scientific fact ten years hence.” 

Join Guy Lombardo, and dozens of other notables like those below, 
who enjoy FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION every month. 

Mel Allen Jane Pickens Sammy Kaye 
Arthur Murray Gladys Swarthout Ben Grauer 
Eva Gabor De Marco Sisters Buddy Rogers 
Hugh C. Wheeler Stuart Palmer P. Schuyler Miller 
Robert Arthur Vivienne Segal 


570 Lexington Avenue, New York 22, N. Y. 

Please enter my subscription at once, to start with the next issue. 
I enclose Q $4 for 1 year HU tor 2 years 



City Zone State 




Under his real name, * ‘ William Morrison * is a general man of letters, writ- 
ing everything from children s stories to adult quality fiction — which 
leaves us wondering how he finds time to turn out the large amount of distin- 
guished science fiction which appears with the Morrison by-line. He* s an 
old-timer in the field, dating back to 1941J but readers are apt to think of him 
as one of the newer writers because his work in the past four years has been 
so much more individual and off trail than his earlier conventional science 
fiction. The Morrison name is now a trademark for unusually detailed and 
logical exploration of an odd idea — as in this, the first of a number of 
Morrison novelets which F&SF is happy to bring you. Here* s an adventure 
story of peril on a strange planet — and also a wry and very funny com- 
mentary on family life, as it is today or will be in the Galactic Future, 
among ourselves or among giants ii6j feet tail. 



George was reading a book of old poetry, the kind that rhymed, when 
Jerry ran in and said, “Dad.” 

He frowned. “Haven’t I told you before that I don’t want to be inter- 
rupted when I’m reading?” 

“I know. Dad, but I thought — well, this is kind of important. The 
gauge registers one- tenth gee.” 

“A planet or a sun?” 

“A planet, but it looks kind of big. And our engines are missing, and it’s 
pulhng us down toward it, and Mom is kind of worried. She said — ” 

“Never mind what she said. I’ll take a look.” 

He threw down the book of poetry, without even marking the page, and 
started to follow Jerry out of the room. By the time they reached the corri- 
dor, he was ahead of Jerry. Why the devil didn’t the kid tell him in the 
first place that Sabina was worried? He’d have known then it was no trifle, 
he wouldn’t have wasted time being annoyed and asking silly questions. 

The rest of the family was in the pilot’s cabin, Sabina at the controls, 
Lester peering over her shoulder, Carl trying to push Lester out of the way. 




Sabina looked up as he came hurrying in. “I don’t think there’s much dan- 
ger, George,” she said. “But I thought you ought to know.” 

“Of course I ought to know. Not that I’m worried about the way you 
handle the ship. Still — ” 

He stared at the instrument panel. “Point one three gee,” said Sabina. 
“It’s pulling us down.” 

“What’s wrong with the engines.?” 

“There’s just no power. I think that either the fuel line is clogged or 
something has diluted the uranium.” 

“Nothing wrong according to the instruments. But they may be out of 

Sabina looked flushed and unusually pretty, as she did sometimes when 
she spent too much time over the electronic stove. “I think we’ll have to 
land, George. The auxiliary engine is all right — I tested it. It’ll take us 
down for a landing.” 

“But what sort of planet is this.?” 

“Diameter 12,000 miles, density one point five seven,” began Lester 
officiously. “Atmosheeric pressure — ” 

“All right, all right. I can read the instruments.” 

Lester looked hurt, and Sabina said reproachfully, “Oh, George, he’s 
only trying to be helpful.” 

We’ve been cooped up too long together, he thought. No family should 
be forced to spend more than a month in any ship. And here we’ve been 
getting on each other’s nerves for half a year. But Sabina is right. I’m too 
brusque with the kid. He’s only eight, and I mustn’t hurt his feelings. 

He said, “I’m sorry, Lester. Go on. What else does it say.?” 

“Atmosheeric pressure — ” 

Atmospheric pressure, dear,” corrected Sabina. 

“Seventeen hundred twenty-two em em Hg at ground level — ” 

“Wow,” said Jerry, who was eleven and knew that sea-level pressure on 
Earth was only 760 mm. “That’s a lot.” 

“Atmosheeric — ditmospheric composition: en two, 29 point seven, oh 
two, 31 point four, aitch ee, fourteen point one — ” 

“Too rich, but breathable,” said George. “Thank God, we’ll be able to 
adjust without too much trouble, and won’t have to wear our space suits.” 

“Now don’t make any promises you can’t keep,” warned Sabina. “You 
know we’ll have to check on microorganisms first.” 

“I’m sorry I said anything,” said George stiffly. “But I thought they 
knew that. We always check on microorganisms.” 

Carl, a bright-eyed youngster of three, had been standing there listening 
in wide-eyed silence. Now he said, “Mommy.” 



“Yes, Carl.” 

“I wanna go home.” 

“Of course we’ll go home, Carl.” 

“I don’t wanna go to any planick.” 

“We gotta go to the planet first,” explained Jerry. “We can’t help our- 
selves. Pop gotta fix the engines — ” 

“I wanna go home. I don’t wanna go to any planick. I wanna go home, 
I don’t wanna go to any planick, I wanna go home, I don’t wanna — ” 

George closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Here we go again, he 
thought. Next time I say anything about taking these kids on a vacation 
in space I’ll know it’s time to have my head examined. 

Sabina looked as harried as he felt. She said, “You take over the ship, 
George. I’ve got a nice heat-pop for Carl. Would you like a nice heat-pop, 
Carl? A delicious yummy heat-pop that keeps your tongue nice and warm 
and tastes like ice cream or anything else you want it to taste like?” 

“I wanna go home,” said Carl. 

Sabina took him firmly by the hand and half led, half dragged him away. 
George sat down at the controls. 

It was a fair-sized planet with low average density. That meant that the 
surface gravity would be low. The kids will like that, he thought. It won’t 
be too big a change from the low artificial gravity of the space ship. The 
high atmospheric pressure and oxygen content may make them a little 
excitable at first, but in the long run, the effects will do them good. They’ll 
have a chance to run around and get some of the nervousness out of their 
systems. And there’ll be more space, provided there aren’t too many dan- 
gerous animals. Less chance of the kids getting in my hair. When I think 
of the month we’ve still got to go before we get back to Earth, my heart 
sinks. I could brain the guy who suggested we take that vacation. 

The planet was growing now, a vast bluish-gray ball that was slowly filling 
the entire viewing screen. The altimeter began to function at 500,000 feet, 
as he switched on the auxiliary engine and began to spiral down. No fea- 
tures discernible in the landscape, he thought, not through those clouds. 

At 100,000 feet the radar began to give him useful details of the landscape. 
He passed over a vast ocean and began to fly over solid ground. After a 
minute of this, however, something seemed to go wrong with the altimeter. 
The needle of light began to waver. Eighty thousand feet — 70,000 — 
80,000 — 69,000 — 78,000 — 69,000 — 76,000 — 

Mountains, he thought, peculiar mountains that stick up as isolated in- 
dividuals above the surface. They’ll make landing difficult. I’ll have to be 
careful how I lose altitude. I’d better take it slow and easy until we get past 
the thickest cloud layers and actually see what’s going on. 



Jerry and Lester were standing alongside him, knowing from experience 
that they’d better not interrupt. He could hear Sabina’s footsteps as she 
came back. “Carl’s asleep,” she said. “That was the trouble with him, he 
was hungry and sleepy. He’s all right when he’s on a planet, and it gets 
hght and dark outside, but when he’s out in space he has no conception of 
day and night, and he just can’t adjust. I think — ” 

Without turning around to look at her, George held up his hand. “Please, 
Sabina, not now. There’s something strange going on down there.” 

Sabina subsided. He peered at the view screen, but the visible light that 
came from below was still gray and diffuse. And the radar wasn’t too clear, 
while the altimeter still wavered. Fifty-nine thousand — 48,000 — 58,000 
— 48,000 — 

Mountains all over the place. Mountains that stuck sharp and high into 
the air as individuals, with deep valleys between them and their neighbors. 
And not a sign of flat land suitable for landing. 

Or was there? Forty-six thousand, 45,000, 45,000 — it was holding rather 
steady now. This might be the place. The needle suddenly shot down again 
to 31,000, and he turned the ship back. He had found one plain, he mightn’t 
find another. He’d land where he could. 

They were breaking through the clouds now, and a sudden gasp came 
from the kids. “Look, Dad!” exclaimed Jerry. “Tree-mountains!” 

The boy was right, he thought. That’s what they were, huge trees as tall 
as mountains. That’s why they rose into the sky as individuals, and there 
were no mountain ranges. They stretched away into the distance as far as 
he could see. A good thing, he told himself, we didn’t try to land among 
them, or sure as shootin’ we’d have had a bad smash. 

Lucky too that he had turned back to find that one plain. It was a large 
clearing, with a dozen times as much space as he needed to make a landing. 
He could set the ship down right in the middle. 

Sabina said wonderingly, “Is that grass down there?” 

“It looks pretty tall, but I guess it is. Things seem to be done here on a big 
scale, Sabina.” 

“Gosh, Pop,” said Jerry, “do you think the animals here are big too?” 

“They probably are. However, I don’t think we have to worry about 
that. Our atomic rifles should be able to scare them away.” 

“Will you let me shoot a rifle. Pop?” asked Lester eagerly. 

“No,” he said curtly. “And don’t ask me again.” 

“Can / shoot it. Pop? I’m eleven, almost twelve — ” 

“Nobody is going to touch a rifle except your mother and me. Now, if 
you kids know what is good for you, you’re going to drop the subject. I 
don’t want anybody to distract my attention while I’m landing.” 



He made the landing without trouble, not far from the center of the 
clearing. Then he began to take samples of the air and soil. The kids waited 
impatiently, anxious to get out into the fresh air. Gravity was low, about a 
half gee. They’d have a wonderful time running and bouncing around — 
provided there was no danger. 

But they’d have to wait, he thought. It took three hours to complete the 
tests, and although the ship carried a wide range of antibiotics, it was still 
silly to take chances. They’d just have to hold their horses until he’d made 
sure there were no viruses or other strange forms of life that their medicines 
couldn’t handle. 

Sabina filled part of the time by giving them a meal. Then they watched 
a home stereo film. After that they came over to him, not saying a word, but 
nagging him by their mere presence. He was annoyed enough even without 
their help, and when Carl awoke, irritable as usual, and began to bawl, he 
was ready to send them out there to face whatever the planet had to offer. 

But he didn’t. He waited the full three hours, and at the end of that 
time he said, “All right, you can go out — with Mother. Sabina, better 
take a rifle. And give them their pocket pistols. I’ll get set to make repairs.” 

“But you can’t touch the engine until it cools off, dear.” 

“I know, but I want to get things ready. Now, remember, Jerry and 
Lester, don’t put your pistols down, not for a minute. Keep them aimed at 
the ground. Do not point them at each other. And stay close to your 

“I wanna pistol,” wailed Carl. 

“You can sweat bullets, my fine-feathered friend, but you still won’t 
get a pistol. Not for another two years. Take him away, Sabina, before his 
buzzing gets on my nerves and I swat him as I would a Martian mosquito.” 

Sabina hastily took Carl away, and George inhaled deeply. Ah, the blessed 
quiet, he thought. Too bad it can’t last. 

He got out his repair kit. Then he undid the anti-radiation chest and 
gave himself a shot. He’d better give them to Sabina and the kids too, he 
thought. Just in case they come monkeying around the engine while I’m 
fixing it and get a burst of rays accidental-like. Even Carl — especially Carl. 
He can scream all he wants to, but the way that kid pokes his nose into 
everything I’d better take no chances. And maybe the jab of the needle 
will convince him I mean business when I say I don’t want to be bothered, 
and make him stay away from me for a while. 

They had left the door of the ship open, and the heavy native air of the 
planet had rushed in. It was a little hard to breathe at first, but he knew 
he’d get used to it and suffer no after-effects. He had got used to worse air. 

But what the devil was it so quiet about outside.? What were Sabina 



and the kids doing? It’s nice to be left, alone, it’s wonderful to have Sabina 
take care of them all by her sweet self — and she is sweet, as I have to admit 
— but still this is a strange planet, ahd there may be danger out there. 
She’s only a weak woman after all, and those kids — well, you know how kids 
are, always thrusting their snotty little noses into places where they have 
no business. Quiet as profound as this is positively ominous. 

He took another rifle from the rack and stepped out. 

The scene was peaceful enough, if strange. The grass, oddly jointed red- 
green stalks a half foot thick, rose 50 feet into the air, way above the ship, 
which had burned a path through it in making a landing. A slight wind 
swayed the tops of the stalks and made a thin sighing noise as it wandered 
among them. The grass was wet, as from recent rain. Probably the reason 
the fire hadn’t spread. 

Through the path burned in the grass he could see that a dozen miles 
away the mountainous trees rose into the air, grotesque figures by virtue 
of their shape as well as their size. They were more like enormous cacti, 
of the Martian type, than the trees he had known. If they moved in the wind 
at all, it was to such a slight extent that he couldn’t detect it. They seemed 
to be frozen into place. 

It wasn’t the plants, however, but the animals that worried him. Off 
to one side he heard a distant noise, as if something were crashing through 
the stalks of grass. Then quiet. And then the noise came from in front of 
him. It grew louder, came nearer — 

A small reddish animal about two feet long leaped from the forest of 
grass. It moved so quickly that he had only a vague idea of the shape of 
the head and he couldn’t be sure of the number of feet. Chasing after it 
came a mighty hunter — Carl, who pointed his finger and said, “Bang, 
bang!” And after Carl came Lester, who pointed a pistol and made a louder 
and more ominous bang. 

A stalk of grass, ripped in two, bent and broke and then came crashing 
down, barely missing the eager Carl. “Lester!” shouted George. “Stop 
shooting! Stop it, do you hear me?” 

After Lester came Jerry, and behind him Sabina. “What’s going on here?” 
demanded George. 

All three children began to explain at once, and George shut them up. 
“They were chasing that beast,” said Sabina. 

“Did it attack them?” 

“Well, no. Jerry was in front, and Lester behind him, with Carl and me 
bringing up the rear. I was just a little ahead of Carl, who was sucking on 
another heat-pop. Suddenly I heard him cry and yell, ‘Bad dog, bad dog!’ ” 

“Bad dog,” agreed Carl. “He took my pop.” 


“Yes, that brazen animal stole Carl’s pop right out of his hand. When 
we came after it, it ran back in this direction.” 

“And it made no attempt to harm any of the children.?” 

“No attempt at all.” 

“Let’s hope the other animals aren’t any more vicious. I think, Sabina, 
that from now on the kids had better stick closer to the ship. At least until 
we know our fauna better.” 

“But they do so like to run around,” said Sabina wistfully. 

“It’s too dangerous to run where we can’t see. The grass cuts off our view 
in every direction except where the ship’s jets burned it down. We don’t 
know what danger’s going to swoop down on us next.” 

“I ain’t afraid of no danger,” said Lester. “You know what I’ll do. Pop, 
if some animal jumps at me.? I’ll give ’im the old one-two. And then I’ll 
point my pistol — a'a-a-a'a — ” 

“Don’t you point that at me! Here, give it to me! We’re in more danger 
from that than from the animals. Let’s get back into the ship.” 

They had left the ship’s door open, and sudden fear struck George. It 
would be an unpleasant surprise to find that some beast had sneaked in 
and was lying in wait for them. He began to hurry. 

A great shadow blotted out the light above them. Then, as the shadow 
swooped down, there was a dull thud and the bow of the ship leaped into 
the air. The entire vessel trembled for a moment, then fell again and turned 
slightly on its side. 

George and Sabina looked at each other. Jerry said, “What was that. 

“I don’t know. Wait a minute, everybody. Don’t move — ” 

There was a distant roar, as of a herd of cattle crashing through the great 
stalks of grass. Another shadow blotted out the light. George looked up and 
saw what seemed to a mountain towering over them. 

“Down!” he shouted. “Everybody down!” 

They threw themselves down, and even as they did so, George doubted 
the wisdom of the move. If that thing were the giant he thought it, a single 
footstep could obliterate the entire family. The shadow passed over them. 
They could hear the tearing and splintering of the grass, and then the noise 
diminished, and it was clear daylight once more. 

He said, “We’d better get out of here.” 

A shadow again. This time it passed rapidly, and he could see its edges 
recede over the grass. It was circular in shape, as if the object which cast 
it were spherical. The object struck the ground, not the ship this time, 
and the shock sent an unpleasant tremor through all of them. Then the 
object rose into the air again. 



“Back to the ship!” ordered George. “Everybody back — quick!” 

They ran into the ship and he shut the door. Outside there was another 
minor earthquake. And then silence. 

He had never seen the kids so scared. They were speechless with fright. 

I can’t blame them, he thought. I feel the same way. 

It was Carl who recovered first. He said, “Bad dog took my pop. I wanna 
go home.” 

“Quiet, Carl,” said Lester importantly. 

^^You be quiet,” said Jerry. 

We’re getting back to normal, thought George. The dryness in his throat 
passed. He said, “It seems gone now. Hope it doesn’t come back in a 

“What do you think it was, George?” asked Sabina. 

“Well, that thing that hit the ship first, and then the ground, seemed to 
bounce. And it had a curved edge. I’d say it was a ball of some kind.” 

“A ball. Pop?” exclaimed Jerry. 

“You heard me. And that giant crashing through the grass must have 
been a kid playing with it.” 

“Some kid!” said Lester. “Gosh, Pop, he was as hooge as a house.” 

^*Hugey dear,” corrected Sabina. 

“He was bigger’n a house. At least looo feet high,” said Jerry. 

“Maybe not that much. I’ll admit I was in too much of a hurry to get a 
good look at him — if it is a him. It may have been a girl, or it may have 
been neither.” 

“Neither?” said Lester incredulously. “That’s silly. Pop. A kid’s gotta be 
something. If it ain’t a boy it’s a girl, and if it ain’t a girl it’s a boy. I remem- 
ber that stereo Mom got us — it’s all about sects — ” 

''SeXy dear.” 

“Let’s not discuss that now,” said George, feeling harried. “When I say 
I think this was a kid. I’m using the term loosely. I should say, perhaps, 
that it was the young of some intelligent species. I don’t know how young, 
and I can’t make any guess.” 

“But a thousand feet high. Pop!” said Jerry. “What’ll he be when he 
grows up?” 

“It wasn’t a thousand feet — I’d say it was closer to 800, although as 
I’ve already told you, I didn’t get enough time to make an accurate esti- 
mate. But even if the adult is no more than a thousand feet — well. I’m 
about average for a human being, six foot one, and those creatures are more 
than 106 times as big.” 

“To them,” said Sabina, “we’re like insects. Less than half an inch long.” 

“I’ll bet they don’t know we’re alive,” said Jerry. 


“But the ship’s big enough for them to see,” said George. “And if they 
catch sight of that — ” 

Carl added the proper comment by wailing, “I wanna go home.” 

‘^Me too,” said Lester. “This place is fulla pearls.” 

“Pm7^, J-ester,” said Sabina automatically. 

“We’ll go home, all of us. But I’ve still a little work on those engines first. 
And they’re not quite cool yet. So, in the meantime — ” 

There must have been an ominous note in his voice, for Jerry said un- 
easily, “Guess I’ll look at a stereo, Pop.” 

“No you don’t. You stay here. Everybody stay here.” 

“What for.?” 

“Anti-radiation injection. I’ll just get the needles ready — ” 

“Aw, Pop,” said Jerry. “I got one just last week.” 

“You’ll take another one. I just gave one to myself.” 

“But it makes me break out all over — ” began Lester. 

“It does nothing of the kind. Now, stop all this nonsense. You’re getting 
to be big kids, both of you, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves 
making a fuss about a little injection. Even Carl wouldn’t do a thing like 

Carl promptly made a liar of him by beginning to yell, “I don’t wanna 
needle! I wanna go home, I wanna go home — ” 

George had intended to save Carl for the last, letting the infant of the 
family profit by the good examples his older brothers set him. But Carl’s 
bawling forced a change of plan. He seized the three-year-old and despite 
violent squirming jabbed the needle into the plump arm. Carl’s voice rose 
in a shriek that might have been emitted by one of the damned, and Sabina 
hastily dragged him away. “You might have thought that hurt,” muttered 
George in disgust. “All right, Lester, you’re practically nine years old, 
you’re next.” 

“I’m only eight — I’m just an infant, Pop! Jerry’s older!” 

“You’re next, I said.” 

The needle bit again, and after that it was Jerry’s turn. Jerry, as befitted 
his extreme age, exclaimed only, “Ouch!” 

“What do you mean, ‘ouch’.? That didn’t hurt at all.” 

“It didn’t hurt you, but it hurt me.” 

“Don’t be a sissy.” George turned toward the engine. “Everything’s 
cooled off now. I’m going to start making repairs. Anybody want to help.?” 

As it turned out, Jerry wasn’t anxious, but Lester was gracious enough to 
offer his services, and when Jerry heard that, he offered his too. And as 
usual, after five exhausting minutes, both boys decided that they were tired 
and went off, leaving him alone. 



George grunted something about the kids these days growing up to be 
useless and wanting everything done for them, and went on with his work. 

Outside, all was quiet. No crashing in the grass, no ominous shadows, no 

Sabina came in and asked, “Need any help, dear?” 

“Nothing, thank you. Just keep them out of my hair.” 

“I think ril take them out again. The danger seems to have passed.” 

“We can’t be sure. Just don’t let them wander too far away from the 

“Don’t worry, dear.” She bent down and kissed him casually on the 
cheek as he worked, and he grunted again, tolerantly. 

He was vaguely aware of her speaking in a low voice, telling the kids they 
mustn’t bother him as they passed by. Even Carl, after the terrible ex- 
perience of that injection, kept his mouth shut, and gave his father a wide 
berth on the way to the door. 

The engine’s main feed line had been clogged. Some non-fissionable, 
non-fusible material had got in and diluted the fuel, and getting the im- 
purity out without waste meant handling with tongs and using the slow 
process of remote control purification. And now that he looked at it, he 
could see that there was a weak spot due to corrosion, and that would have 
to be fixed before they went any further. A good ten hours of additional 
work, he thought, even if he was lucky. And closer to twenty, if he wasn’t. 

He had become absorbed iri the work, and it was with surprise that he 
looked up to see Sabina and the children come trooping back. “Have a 
good time?” he asked. 

“Oh, it was wonderful,” said Sabina. “The children haven’t enjoyed them- 
selves so much for ages.” 

“What did they do?” 

“Well, they found a little pool, probably created by that rain that fell 
before we got here. And they went in swimming.” 


“Oh, don’t worry, George, I disinfected the water first. If you could have 
seen what a time they had splashing around you’d have been only too happy 
to join them.” 

“I suppose you went in too.” 

“Just for a little,” she admitted. “Next time, George, we’ll drag you 

“Maybe. See any animals?” 

“There was one beast like the one that stole Carl’s pop. But it ran away 
when it saw us, and there were no big ones.” 

“No giants throwing a ball around?” 



“Not a soul, large or small. I couldn’t have asked for a better playground/* 

“Fine. Now, if you don’t mind. I’ll get on with my work.” 

“But it’s getting dark, George. The sun is setting outside.” 

“What of it? This job has to be done, and we don’t go by this planet’s 

“But you’ll have to use artificial light. And if you don’t want to start 
our air-purifiers, and leave the door open, some giant may notice it and 
come looking for the ship.” 

“They’ll think it’s a firefly.” 

“How do you know they have fireflies here.^^ So far we haven’t seen a 
single insect.” 

“Then I’ll keep the door closed.” 

“You’re so stubborn,” she sighed. “It’s no use talking to you.” 

“You knew that when you married me.” 

“I thought you’d change. Oh, well. I’m going to make supper.” 

He went on working until it was time to eat. But after supper he suddenly 
felt tired. “Been up for a long time,” he yawned. “Better get some sleep.” 

“I feel tired too.” 

So, for that matter, did the children — all except Carl. Carl had slept 
during the afternoon. Now he was wide awake and full of pep, and he in- 
sisted on letting everybody know that he wanted to go home. Sabina said, 
“I swear. I’m never going to take that child off Earth again. He’s got the 
most irregular sleeping hours.” 

“Put him in a weightless rocker,” suggested George, “and shake the 
energy out of him. Maybe that’ll do the trick.” 

It did, and presently they all slept. 

George was awakened by an earthquake. He could feel the ship heave 
up in the air and then spin around its axis. When it came to rest again, 
everything was upside down. 

Carl was bawling, and the other kids were yelling, and Sabina was saying 
drowsily, with her eyes less than half open, “What happened? Did the 
alarm go off?” 

“No, but it’s time to get up anyway,” said George. The ground had 
stopped quaking, and he stared into the visor that gave them a picture of 
the ship’s surroundings. “I’ll be damned. It’s morning!” 

“Already? I just closed my eyes!” 

“Either this planet has an abnormally short period of rotation, or it’s 
summer here, and we’re closer to one of the poles than I thought. Anyway, 
we’ve been asleep only five hours, and it’s morning.” 

“But what made the ground shake?” 

“I don’t know — wait a minute, maybe I do.” They crowded around 


him, staring into the visor together. “There’s some animal, pretty far away. 
Let’s see if I can get some figures on this.” He adjusted the range finder. 
“Five thousand feet away — the thing must be 500 feet high!” 

“It’s giantic,” said Lester, “and it’s jumping around. That’s what made 
the earthquake.” 

“And there’s another figure — that must be the kid. Seven hundred 
eighty feet high — my guess of eight hundred was a good one. Maybe the 
smaller one is a pet.” 

“But what kind of creatures are they.f^” demanded Sabina. “I can’t make 
them out.” 

“The one I called the kid is kind of human — I think. It has two legs.” 

“They got a funny shape, Pop,” said Lester. 

“They’re broad, and they’re heavier at the base than at the top. The 
body, in fact, seems to taper considerably. I suppose that if it were too 
heavy the legs wouldn’t support it, even on a low-gravity planet like this.” 

“I see four arms. Pop!” exclaimed Jerry. 

“I see a face. Pop!” cried Lester. 

“If you can call it a face,” said George. “Well, let’s be generous and say 
it is. There are eyes — ” 

“Three of them. Pop!” announced Jerry. 

“I can count. There seem to be half a dozen noses and several mouths. 

And I’m not sure that I can tell one from the other.” 

“But it’s a child all the same,” said Sabina. “Look, dear, he’s holding 
something in his hand. It’s a kind of stick. He’s striking at the grass tops with 
it. And now he’s throwing it!” 

“And that animal is chasing it!” said Jerry. “Just like a dog — only it’s 
hopping like a frog!” 

“Gosh,” said Lester. “I hope he don’t throw it this way. That hopping 
thing would pulmerize us.” 

“Puli/erize, dear.” 

“I wanna go home,” said Carl. 

“That’s an idea,” agreed George. “Look, .everybody, while Mom is get- 
ting breakfast ready. I’ll have to be working on that engine. I found another 
corroded spot late yesterday, and it’s going to take me longer than I thought 
at first. I want you kids to keep an eye on that little giant outside.” 

“Okay, Pop,” said Jerry. And he added wistfully, “He’s lucky. Wish I 
had a dog to play with out there!” 

That was an old subject for discussion, and a sore one. But George had 
long ago decided that in a space ship a dog would be a nuisance, so now he 
simply ignored the remark and went about his work. He started to splatter 
a thin layer of metal over the corroded spots, trying at the same time not 



to hurry too much. He didn’t dare do a bad job, or the patch Would fall 
apart, and the engines would start missing again out in spaed. And next 
time there mightn’t be a planet as convenient as this one to land on. 

He interrupted work for five minutes to eat, and then fell to again. Later 
that morning, the giant kid and his pet disappeared, and Sabina took the 
children outside. They went swimming again, and George, on hearing their 
glowing reports about the fun they had had, was strongly tempted to fol- 
low their example. But the worlc comes first, he told himself sternly. The 
work always comes first. That giant kid and his pet dog- frog don’t seem 
to be vicious, but they’re dangerous simply by virtue of their size. The 
sooner we get out of here the better. 

When he knocked off for lunch five hours later, he noted that all three 
children had a healthy, ruddy look about them. “The sun here gives you a 
beautiful tan,” said Sabina. “This is really a wonderful vacation spot.” 

“Provided you don’t get stepped on.” 

“Oh, I’m not afraid of that any more.” 

“The trouble is,” he told her, “that you’re getting Used to the danger. 
You’re beginning to think it’s nothing. Just because you’ve had luck so 

“It’s hard to think of danger front that child, even though he is a giant,” 
admitted Sabina. “The way he plays with his pet is so human.” 

“His face isn’t.” 

Jerry was staring at the visor. He yelled suddenly, “Hey — look, every- 
body! There’s another one!” 

They all ran over to see. In addition to the smaller giant, the one they had 
noticed before, there was a larger one, about one and a half times* the first 
one’s height. Eleven hundred and sixty-seven feet, by the range- and size- 
finder. The two giants wCre standing close together, and George felt a tremor 
come Up through his feet and pass through his body. 

“Is that another earthquake?” asked Lester anxiously. 

“No, I think it’s just the vibration from their conversation. They’re so 
much bigger than we are that all their sounds are pitched much lower. 
Probably the vibrations aren’t perceived as souiid at all, but directly as 
sensations of a different kind.” 

“You know,” said Sabina, “There’s something about her — well, I can’t 
be sure, of course, but I get the impression that’s his mother.” 

“You can’t prove anything by me,” said George. “As Lester would say, 

I see no sign of sects.” 

“She seems to be bawling him out about something. She’s pointing with 
one of her arms. What’s she pointing to, George?” 

“Wait a minute, and I’ll focus the range finder. Say — that’s strange!” 



“What is it, Pop?” asked Lester. 

“A wall. It wasn’t there when we landed. A rough red wall in front of the 
mountain' trees. And it turns to blue over at the side.” 

“And further over,” cried Sabina, “it’s yellow.” 

“Let’s figure this out. If it wasn’t there yesterday, then they're the ones 
who have put it up. But why? The top of the wall seems to be pretty 
even — ” 

He stopped, with a strange puzzled look in his eyes. Sabina said, “Why, 
of course, I should have known at once. It’s the family wash!” 

“You mean the giants wash their clothes?” demanded Jerry. “Why should 
they do that?” 

“You wouldn’t understand, but I think they don’t like dirt. Really, 
they’re very human.” 

“They’re dopey. Who’s afraid of dirt?” demanded Jerry. 

“But why did she point to the wash. Mom?” asked Lester. 

“Yeah, and why is she bawling him out?” asked her other large son. 
“When you bawl us out. Mom — hey, what’s she doing that for?” 

George had focused on the two giants again. Now, as they watched, they 
saw a great arm swing and make contact with the smaller giant’s face. The 
young one went down, the thud bouncing the ship an inch off the ground. 
And then the entire vessel shook with a series of violent vibrations. 

“The nasty thing,” said Sabina. “She slapped him in the face and knocked 
him down. And he’s crying! That’s what’s shaking the ship!” 

“Well, he’d better stop crying,” said George crossly. “How can I do any 
work with all this shaking going on?” 

“But why did she hit him, Ma?” persisted Jerry. 

“She’s just got a nasty streak in her,” said Sabina, looking mad. “I’d 
like to give that woman a piece of my mind.” 

“Oh, don’t get worked up about it,” said George. “She must have had 
some good reason — ” He focused on the wall again. “Look there — that 
green part. With a great patch of brown right in the middle. Dirt! He 
dirtied her wash!” 

“That’s still no reason to hit a child. Things like that happen all the time.” 

“Maybe she hasn’t had the advantage of a book on child psychology,” 
said George. “Cut it out, Sabina. Stop trying to run other people’s business 
for them. Personally, I can understand how she feels. Sometimes when Carl 
starts his yapping I’ve wanted to wallop that kid so hard — ” 

“Don’t you dare lay a finger on that poor child,” said Sabina warningly, 
and Carl, scenting danger, edged closer to her. 

“I’m not threatening him. I’m just telling you the way I feel — some- 
times. And I’ll bet you feel the same way, too — sometimes.” 



“I do not. I’ll admit that occasionally I’m annoyed with him, but I never 
hit him.” 

“Well, it seems to me I remember that about a week ago — ” 

“Hey, Pop,” said Jerry. “She went away. He’s picking himself up. He’s 
patting his pet!” 

“After all that sympathy your mother was wasting on him. Anyway, the 
ship isn’t shaking any more. I’m getting to work again,” said George. 

For a while there was a coolness between him and Sabina. But once he 
became absorbed in his work again, he forgot about it. And after he had 
been working for another few hours, he allowed Sabina to coax him into 
going swimming with them. He was slowing down, he admitted. He’d work 
all the faster and more efficiently for a slight change. And the water was so 
delicious, Sabina assured him, that she didn’t want him to miss it. 

Carl had suddenly fallen asleep again, and Sabina was sure he wouldn’t 
awaken for at least an hour. They left him in the ship, with the door open, 
as they trekked down to the pool in the forest of grass. To the giants it was 
probably merely a wet spot in the fields, left over from the last rain. But to 
human beings it was a fair-sized swimming hole, almost thirty feet long, and 
at least twenty wide. The only place that was over his head was in the center. 

They left two rifles at the edges of the pool, one at each side, so that no 
matter from which of the two directions danger approached they’d be able 
to get to a weapon. But once he had dived in, George forgot all about dan- 
ger. This was a pleasure he hadn’t had in a long time. He was a little out of 
practise, but with the low gravity of the planet, it didn’t take much energy 
to leap and dive around, and the! swimming was just as delicious as Sabina 
had said it would be. 

He had just come out to dry off when the ominous sound of some body 
crashing through the grass smote his ears. Almost the next second, it 
seemed, shadows loomed above them. 

It was the giant child and his pet. George grabbed his rifle and swung 
around bravely to face the danger and defend his family. The ground shook 
from the leaping of the pet, and the wind from the great creature’s approach 
whistled about their ears. The thing was coming straight at them. 

George raised the rifle, aimed — although that was hardly necessary in 
view of the size of his target — and fired. The animal roared (the sound 
must have been a high yelp compared to the usual subsonic vibrations the 
creatures emitted, thought George). It swerved aside, stopped to poke at 
its body with a huge foot, and squirmed unhappily. 

George was about to order everybody back to the ship, when a human 
scream came to them. He swung around in the direction of the ship, and 
froze in terror. 



The giant kid had found the ship. He had picked it up and was examining 
it, holding it fairly close to his eyes, about six hundred feet above the 
ground. High up there George thought he could make out the tiny figure 
of Carl, near the open door. At any moment, Carl might drop out and 
plummet through the air to the ground far below. 

George raised his rifle again, but Sabina grabbed his arm. “Don’t shoot,” 
she panted. “The sting will only startle him, and he’ll drop the ship. Wait.” 

But waiting wasn’t easy. The giant kid seemed to be very much inter- 
ested, and he took an endless time to make up his mind. He held the ship 
at different angles in the palm of one of his hands, and then he tried to peer 
into it. Once he held it up to the side of his head. To his ears, thought 
George, although these were either invisible or unrecognizable to the hu- 
man beings far below. 

He couldn’t hear Carl any more. All the same, if I know that kid, thought 
George, he’s still yelling. The giant can’t hear him, though. To him, Carl’s 
voice emits nothing but supersonic vibrations that his organs of hearing 
can’t perceive. 

After a time the giant seemed to make up his mind. He bent down and 
put the ship back in the grass. He didn’t place it down as carefully as a 
mother would have done, but it had only a few feet to fall before coming 
to rest, arid George was sure that Carl hadn’t received any serious shock. 

As the giant kid moved on, Sabina closed her eyes and swayed. George 
felt sure she was going to faint — he felt like fainting himself. But she 
didn’t. She merely opened her eyes again and said, “Come on. I must find 
out what happened to him.” 

As they rushed toward the ship, the reassuring sound of Carl’s bawling 
met them. Carl was yelling, “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” 

“I don’t blame him,” said George. “I want to go home myself.” He fell 
into a seat, his legs suddenly weak. “When I think what that giant kid 
might have done — ” 

“He didn’t,” said Sabina. “He was curious, but not vicious. Therri ate 
many human children who wouldn’t have behaved so well, George. When 
they find something small and helpless, they torture it and tear it to pieces.” 

“Let’s not make this sound any worse than it is,” said George. “Carl 
is safe. Okay. Let’s be thankful and do our best to see that we don’t run 
into any more trouble. I’ve had all the swimming I need for a month. I’m 
going to finish up this repair job, with no more time out for fun.” 

“But I can’t get over that giant child,” said Sabina. “So sweet and 
gentle. What sort of woman would strike a child like that I can’t imagine. 
I don’t think she’s much of a mother.” 

“It’s none of your business, and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

PLAVOftdUNI) 1$ 

Now be quiet and take the kids out, and let me get on With my work.” 

“We won’t bother you, Pop,” said Lester. “We’ll be miimp.” 

“I can’t get anything done with a lot of conversation going on. Sabina, 
please — ” 

“Oh, all right, all right. But it seems to me that you’re making most of 
the conversation yourSelf. Come, children, leave your father alone.” 

“Can’t I help him, Ma?” asked Jerry. “I could hand him the tools — ” 

“Good idea. Let Jerry stay,” said George. 

“Why should he stay and not me?” demanded Lester. “Mom, I wanna 
stay too. I got a right to stay if he stays. Mom.” 

“He’s older,” said George. 

“He gets everything because he’s older! It ain’t fair! If he stays — ” 

“Out!” said George. “Everybody!” 

He could hear thd quarrel still going on as they went into the next room. 
They forgot to close the door^ and he slammed it after them. 

It was a long afternoon. By the time the sun was touching the horizon, 
the children had been sent to sleep and he himself had finished his work. 
Repairs had been madcj the ship was spaceworthy once more. 

Now to get it into the air and then into space. But here there was a 

The ship had been tossed around several times after landing, and finally 
picked up and laid down again. Its stern pointed up into the air, its nose 
into the ground. It lay at an angle on its right side, like a stranded fish. 
Before taking off, it would have to be set right. 

“I’ll have to maneuver it around fbr a little while,’* George told Sabina. 
“It’ll take me at least a half hour to get it into position.” 

“You can use your secondary jets. But, George, there’s something you 
didn’t think of. We’re out here in the middle of a grass forest. And it’s no 
longer wet, the way it was when we landed. The jets might set it on fire. 
In fact, they’te sure to set it on fire.” 

“So what? When the ship is sealed, it’s heat proof.” 

“Yes, but don’t you see? The fire may spread and burn these poor giants 
out of house and home.” 

“Look, Sabina, why worry about them? I thought you didn’t like that 
woman, anyway.” 

“I don’t, but still it isn’t the right thing to dO; Nasty as she is, she doesn’t 
deserve that. And the child would suffer too. And the father, if they have 

“But, Sabina, even if it does inconvenience them, with us it’s a matter of 
life and death. We’ve got to get out of here.” 



“I know, but — ” 

“Now don’t start getting sentimental about a bunch of giants. We have 
to look out for ourselves. Even if a fire starts, they can put it out. They can 
just stamp it out. All they have to do is put their big feet down — wait a 
minute, that’s a thought.” 

“About putting their feet down?” 

“Yes. The fire will start right away, but we’ll have to stick around for a 
half hour or so. Suppose they come out here to put it out and step on us"' 

“They might do that, George. So it would be better if you didn’t start a 

“But what am I going to do? Clear the forest away from around the ship? 
That would take days. And besides, that would attract their attention 
almost as much as a fire would. They’d come out to investigate what was 
making the grass disappear from the middle of their field.” 

Sabina said, “I don’t know what to say. Why don’t we wait till morning, 
George? We can both of us use a night’s rest. And in the morning we’ll be 
able to think more clearly, and decide what to do.” 

“I hate to stay here another night.” 

“But nothing happens during the night, George. The giants sleep. And 
if they do come close, the vibrations from their footsteps will awaken us.” 

“Well, I am tired — all right, Sabina, if you wish we’ll get a night’s rest 
and see what we can do in the morning.” 

The short night passed quietly. In the morning the photometric alarm 
was set to wake them with the increase in light from the rising sun, after 
what turned out to be only four hours of sleep. George got out of bed 
yawning and protesting. Sabina didn’t hear a sound, however, and it took 
Carl’s bawling to awaken her. Jerry had got into a fight with Lester, and 
Lester, on the losing end because of his more tender years, had decided to 
take out his feelings on his still younger brother. Hence Carl’s lamentations. 

The giants, if they were up, weren’t about. Sabina prepared a hasty break- 
fast, and after they ^te, George said, “I feel drugged. My eyes just keep 
closing. What was that stuff you were saying about being able to think more 
clearly in the morning?” 

“I don’t know. What did I say?” 

“We have to get the ship in position to take off. Remember? And we don’t 
want to use the jets for fear of starting a fire and attracting those giants.” 

Jerry said, “Ma, can we go swimming this morning?” 

“No more swimming.” 

“Aw, gee, Ma, just once more.” 

“Stop nagging your mother,” said George. “You’re not leaving,” 



“I wonder,” said Sabina. “That giant child — ” 

“What about him?” 

“If he knew what we wanted, he’d help us.” 

“If he knew what we wanted — that’s some idea! How could he possibly 
know? There’s no method of communication we can use. It would ^ake 
weeks even for one of our linguists to learn their vibration language.” 

“Yes, I know, but — there must be some way, George.” 

“If there is, you name it, and we’ll do it.” 

Carl, who was sitting on Sabina’s lap, crawled down to the floor and 
pounced suddenly on a small greenish object a couple of inches long. 
“Ship,” he said. “I gotta ship.” 

“What is it, Carl?” asked Lester. “Let me see!” 

“Mommy, he’s trying to take it away from me!” 

“I just want to look at it, Ma! I want to see what it is!” 

“/’ll look at it.” Sabina examined the object curiously, then gave it back 
to Carl. “It must be a grass seed,” she said. “It must have fallen on our 
clothes, and been carried by one of us into the ship.” 

“That’s right, Mom,” said Jerry. “Here’s another one.” 

“It’s a ship,” insisted Carl. “I gotta ship.” 

“He thinks a grass seed is a ship. And I’ll bet that giant kid,” said George, 
“thought our ship was a funny kind of grass seed.” 

I hope he don’t pick us up again,” said Jerry. 

“Why not?” said Sabina. “George, maybe that’s the answer! If we could 
get him to pick the ship up and hold it in the air, he’d keep turning it 
around, the way he did before, and sooner or later he’d point it up. And 
then you could jet off.” 

“But we’d have the same difficulty we already talked about. How do we 
get him to pick up the ship? We can’t explain anything.” 

“We don’t have to explain. Suppose you send a cloud of smoke through 
the jets. You could do that, couldn’t you, George?” 

“Yes, I could do that.” 

“Well, being curious, like any kid, he’d come over here to see what it 
was. And then he’d pick us up — ” 

“We might get hurt,” said Jerry. 

“We’d strap ourselves in position first. And Daddy would be at the con- 
trols, ready to start.” 

“It’s a possibility,” admitted George. “Let’s try it. Start strapping them 
in, Sabina, and I’ll get some stalks of grass.” 

A quarter of an hour later they were ready. And just about that time, 
the young giant and his pet made their appearance in the field, at a distance 
of ten thousand feet. 



George had brought some of the huge grass stalks into the ship. Now 
he put them into the chemical combustion chamber, started them burning 
with insufficient air, and sent a cloud of smoke through the jets. To the 
young giant, he thought, it must look like the faintest trickle of smoke. 
The chances were that the youngster would overlook it entirely. 

For a while nothing happened. Then the pet animal’s face began to 

“He’s sniffing!” cried Jerry. “He smells the smoke!” 

The animal bounced toward them, its master following. Now the young 
giant caught sight of the trickle of smoke, and he paused. George began 
shooting smoke through the jets as fast as he could. 

The giant came cautiously closer and bent down, as if afraid that some 
insect would sting him. His face blotted the sky from the visor — 

He was picking the ship up. George whirled head over heels, but like the 
others he was strapped into position, and being upside down in the low 
gravity wasn’t so bad. Carl, however, didn’t like it. He yelled for his mother. 

There came a bad ten seconds when the giant youngster shook the ship, 
probably listening to see if anything rattled inside. That didn’t feel so good, 
and Carl began to bawl even louder. Then the ship righted, and for a mo- 
ment its nose pointed ahead and up. 

George pressed the button which set the engine to firing. The ship 
spurted ahead, probably leaving the giant youngster with all his mouths 
open in surprise. 

They were 400 feet over the grass tops now. A red wall loomed ahead, 
more than 1000 feet high, and there was no chance to clear it. They tore 
straight through, hardly feeling the shock, and then George point^ the 
nose of the ship up still more sharply, and soon they had skimmed the edge 
of the mountain trees and were rising higher and higher. 

George breathed a sigh of relief, and began to unstrap himself. “Okay,” 
he said. “We made it. We can go home now.” 

“That poor kid,” said Sabina. 

‘'What.? I’m sure I didn’t hurt him. If he had the middle of the ship in 
the palm of his hand, the jets probably sent the exhaust into the air, and 
didn’t even get his hand hot. At worst we might have given him a slight 
scorching that he’ll get over fast.” 

“I don’t mean that,” said Sabina. “But that red wall — we went right 
through it. We ruined the garment, whatever it was.” 

“I suppose his mother can patch it up.” 

“That isn’t what I mean either. Don’t you see, George, they don’t know 
about us, and if he tries to explain, a nasty woman like her won’t believe 
him. She’s sure to blame him for whatever happened. She’ll beat him.” 



“I’m sorry. I guess he can take it, though.” 

“But it hurts to see a woman of her kind mistreat a child so. And he’s 
such a sweet child. Such a beautiful disposition, so thoughtful and kind- 
hearted. I’d hate to think she might break his spirit.” 

What do you say to a wife who talks like that? George demanded of 
himself. He could think of nothing suitable, and he just grunted. 

Carl cried suddenly, “I don’t wanna go home. I wanna go back to the 
playground. I wanna go swimmin’!” 

“Shut up, Carl!” cried Sabina, turning on him savagely. “Shut up, or 
I’ll give you a spanking you’ll never forget! I’m sick and tired of your 

Amazed at this sudden outburst from a parent from whom he had ex- 
pected sympathy, Carl closed his mouth. 

“He’s really a doll.” 


“No, that giant child, of course. And with a mother like that!” 

Situation normal, thought George. And he headed the ship for home. 

From this instructive tale we may learn that the syndicated scope of Dr, 
Aesop Abercrombie* s column includes even the Thunderer itself ^ the London 
times; that worse fates may await the purloiner of an idol* s eye than 
any dreamed of by WilJ^e Collins or Lord Dunsany; and that even these 
horrors may dissolve before the gentle suasion of the good doctor* s advice. 

Somewhere £ast of *^udyard 


The medical missionary, a rather beefy girl with moist brown eyes and a 
mannish haircut, leaned over Albert P. “Rangoon” Rappaport. 

“Don’t give up hope,” she whispered harshly. “There must be a way.” 

Rangoon, known in boojk stalls and lecture halls from Okinawa to Oska- 
loosa as the “poor man’s Trader Horn,” drank deeply from his gin-and- 
quinine, slapped his putteed leg with a fly swatter, and stared disconsolately 
at the bougainvillaea bush, drooping now in the heat of India’s sunny clime. 

“As I understand it, you took the ruby out of the idol’s navel and put 
it in your trouser pocket and then forgot and sent the trousers to the 
cleaner. . . } And the heathens won’t believe you when you say you can't 
give it back. Then Monday a week you found a Sign on the doorstep and 
ever since you’ve talked like a certain poet whose very name . . .” 

Rangoon nodded. “For the wind is in the palm trees, and the temple 
priests they say: give it back, you British #$%*&, give it back, without 
delay.” A spasm of self-loathing crossed his face. 

“Try to write what you want to say,” the missionary said compassionately. 

She took a large prescription pad from her bag and gave it to him, along 
with an automatic pencil. Rangoon moved his beard aside and, with the pad 
on his knee, carefully, with much erasing and crossing out and many pitiful 
glances at his visitor, managed to inscribe in a crabbed hand: 

“Was going to make ruby tie pin visible back row any auditorium. God 
have mercy on such as me. Baa! Yah! Baa!” 

He moaned and hid his face in his hands as she read the note and conse- 
quently did not see the tender smile that broke her lipless mouth. 

“So that’s how it is,” she said. “Even when you write. They thought of 




He hung his head. 

“Well,” she continued cheerfully, “it’s too late to worry about giving it 
back. The only thing left to do is to fight. I, myself, will do the best I can 
to heal your spirit, but the other . . In my opinion, there is only one 
other person in the world who will Understand and Help you. Will you write 
to him today?” 

And as he raised the gin bottle to his trembling lips, the good woman 
scribbled a name on her pad, the magic name of Dr. Aesop Abercrombie. 

One of Dr. Aesop Abercrombie’s syndicated patients, a lad suffering from 
warts in lower Brooklyn, collected stamps; therefore the doctor’s kindly 
eyes lit up with delight when he saw in his morning’s mail a splendidly 
postaged letter from far-off India. 

His joy was unconfined when {le drew the penciled sheet from the en- 
velope and saw that among his many readers, in the multitudes that fol- 
lowed his daily health column, .was none other than the most famous Rappa- 
port of them all. 

“Damn it all, sir [the letter commenced]. I’ve had scurvy with the worst 
of them from China cross the bay, and a bullet where my belt plate should 
have been. I’ve been eaten up by flies where the old flotilla lies and the 
metal in my knee caps isn’t tin. But I pulled a sad faux pas when I went 
against the law and snitched the temple jewel at Kurry Djiin. They have 
put a curse upon me. East is East and West is West. Save me. Help. 

Drinking bitter beer alone, 

Rangoon Rappaport.” 

“Good heavens,” ejaculated the doctor, soaking off the stamps in his 
tepid tea and staring at the letter. “What ever has happened to Rangoon’s 
style? Indeed, his situation is desperate.” And, shoving all his other cor- 
respondence aside, he dictated his merciful advice. 

The rainy season had set in; the bo tree in the courtyard dripped with 
fetid moisture. Fungus crawled over the walls and ceiling of the bungalow 
and giant insects fell from the light fixtures. A cobra moved in under the 
davenport. Rangoon Rappaport, shunned by those who formerly fawned 
upon him, lay in his mildewed hammock and soaked himself with gin. 

On a particularly dismal afternoon in late December, Rangoon Rappa- 
port flung aside his empty bottle and picked up a service revolver and 
placed the barrel an inch foreward of his right ear. 

“There’s worser things than marchin’ from Umballa to Cawnpore,” he 
muttered, and his finger tensed on the trigger. 



Up the walk, under a huge umbrella, ran a female figure and in her hand 
waved a newspaper. 

“Mr. Rappaport,” she carolled, “Mr. Rappaport, aid has come in the 
nick of time. Dr. Abercrombie has answered your plea!” 

Gaining the verandah, she closed her umbrella, shook it, and placed it in a 
corner. Her moist brown eyes glowed. Rangoon Rappaport sat up and put 
on his tropical helmet. 

“Listen,” she panted. “I’ll read you what he says: 

“ ‘Dear Rappaport: 

“ ‘Come now. Am I to believe that a man of your wide knowledge has 
fallen prey to the ignorant and foolish superstitions of the hottentots? 
You have appropriated a heathen religious article much as a collector might 
pick up a piece of old Wedgwood. What is wrong in that? Therefore, do not 
believe in this fanciful curse. Say to yourself: Nonsense! Tommyrot! Balder- 
dash! Laugh heartily at the simple effrontery of these unwashed, backward 
people. Scorn them for their child-like methods of revenge, yet find it in 
your heart also to forgive and forget. 

“ ‘Above all, J^ep a cool head and carry onl 

“ ‘Dr. A. Abercrombie.’ ” 

Miss Evangeline Widdershins (for such was her name) shook the times 
under Rangoon’s nose. 

“You see,” she cried. “There is a cure. Say these words to yourself.” 

Rangoon smiled at her humbly and took the paper. “Nonsense,” he read 


“Tommy . . Tommy . . . Tommy this and Tommy that and . • 

“Tommyro/,” finished Miss Widdershins. “Now the next one.” 

“Boots, Boots, Boots, Boots, marching up and down again?” 

“No,” the earnest female shouted. ''Balderdash, Say it!” 

Rangoon marshalled his forces, gritted his teeth, swallowed hard, and said 
quite clearly: “Balderdash.” 

She leaned forward and gripped his shoulder. 

“You can do it. Carry on. Go now to the Club and face them all with 
your head held high.” 

“Cooler in the Club anyhow,” he muttered, “like Abercrombie says.” 

“Yes, keep a cool head,” she repeated slowly. Her fingers relaxed upon 
his shoulder and became almost caressing. “Oh Albert,” she said, “it won’t 
be easy. But always remember, I understand.” 

Hope came again to the stricken man. He put his revolver back in the 
bureau drawer, combed his whiskers, got a clean handkerchief, and ventured 



out of doors in the direction of the Club, which he had avoided, not without 
encouragement, since the curse had settled on his tongue and pen. 

During the rainy season the Club was, of course, in full cry; the whist 
room was crowded; auxiliary tables for dominoes had to be set up in the 
cloakroom, and the bar was lined, two deep, with squint-eyed, leather-faced 
men whose tans were fading to a greenish cream on account of the inclement 

Unnoticed, Rangoon felt the swinging doors swish noiselessly behind 
him, and he eked his way through the chattering throng to the teakwood 

“Yes, Sahib?” said the native bartender efficiently; then he ogled. 

Rangoon hardened his diaphragm, lifted his head, counseled his vocal 
chords and mumbled: “Gin-and-quinine.” 

He was rewarded with a popeyed stare of astonishment from the Hindoo. 

The stout chap next to him turned suddenly: “Oh, I say, have I. the 
honor to address the author of Batting Through Bengal?^'* 

Rangoon clutched his drink in desperation; but realizing that the colonial 
was down from the hills but recently and was not jibing, he nodded. 

“I say,” the other boomed enthusiastically, “this is marvelous. What 
luck! I’ve always wanted to ask you: when that lash of manreating tigers on 
page 40 attacked you, what happened? My nephew tore that particular page 
out of the book and, good heavens, I often wondered if you escaped alive.” 

“Well,” Rangoon said, feeling warmed and heartened by the first truly 
natural human contact in four months, “if you can keep your head when all 
about you .” He stopped and gagged. “I ran,” he finished quickly. 

The colonial’s face showed deep disappointment for an instant, then 
brightened. “Ran at them I fancy,” he said. “Cleaned them out. Got the 
hides all over your libr’y to the little wife’s dismay, I fancy.” 

“For alLtheir dirty ’ides, they was white, clear white, inside,” Rangoon 
blurted out. 

“Extraordinary,” the colonial said. “White, you say. Anemic, no doubt.” 

Rangoon downed his liquor and faced up to the bartender whose dark eyes 
leered evilly from his swarthy phiz. 

Resisting an impulse to order a Gunga Gin, Rangoon, with mighty strain, 
managed to shout: “Rum collins” and the long bar seemed to wiggle like a 
boa constrictor in his vision. 

“I say,” the colonial went on (to Rangoon’s misery a small crowd had 
gathered about them to listen curiously), “I’m about to have tiffin with 
the Governor General. Do come along. He’s a top-hole fan of yours, you 

All ears bent for Rangoon’s answer and from the corner of his eye the 



cursed man saw small wagers laid, with odds of 99 to i. Rapidly the whist 
room was emptying to collect around the question, which hovered in the 
air. The bartender smiled the inscrutable smile of the East. 

Rangoon tugged frantically at his beard. Nonsense, he thought. Tommy- 
rot and balderdash. I refuse to believe. I must carry on. Oh, Evangeline, 
be with me now, for I want to have tiffin with the Governor General 
more than fife itself. 

Of course, he thought of several things to say. There was “You can 
bet your bloomin’ nut” and “I’ll come and ’ave a romp with you whenever 
you’re inclined,” not to mention “It’s five times better business than 
paradin’ in full kilt.” 

But he must not give way! Froth gathered about the corners of his lip; 
his face grew ghastly white. His glass of collins shattered in his hand, so 
great was the pressure of his nervous fingers. The room began to tip, first 
one way then the other, and a great black curtain commenced to slide 
from the ceiling, blotting out all consciousness. Suddenly a pinpoint of 
light rent the darkness, grew, swelled, spread. And in the “window” as 
it were appeared the compelling countenance of Miss Widdershins, holding 
before her Dr. Abercrombie’s letter. There is no ^curse\ she seemed to be 
saying. Cool off and carry on! 

He relaxed, he felt calm, at ease, at peace. He turned to the unwashed 
bartender and sneered at his simple effrontery, not forgetting to finish it 
up with a beam of forgiveness. He gazed at the encircling throng with 
benevolent and tender eyes. He had won, he had conquered. In his joy 
he placed a £10 note on the counter and smiling said: 

“A toast to his Excellency, the Governor General.” 

“A toast!” they all shouted. 

“For,” said Rangoon, choosing his words with precision from the enor- 
mous stock at his command, and fifting high his glass: “For he’s a pore 
denuded ’eathen and a fifth class fightin’ man.” 

Quietly Rangoon Rappaport slipped to the floor. He fainted. 

The former Miss Evangeline Widdershins, now Mrs. Albert P. Rappa- 
port, turned to her husband. 

“My dear,” she said, “I have just completed a note of thanks to our 
kind benefactor. Dr. Aesop Abercrombie. I have explained that it was 
difficult, in India, to keep a cool head while carrying on, but since I man- 
aged a transfer up here to the Yukon, you have frozen your ears twice and 
got completely rid of that nasty curse. I have told him that not one single 
fine of that certain poet’s has crossed your lips since leaving tlie Hindoo 
shore. Would you like to add a few words 

somewhere east of rudyard 


Albert P. Rappaport brushed the frost from his whiskers and pulled 
off a reindeer mitten. He accepted the pencil from her outstretched hand 
and wrote with the carefree habit of a man with a guiltless conscience: 

“Dear Dr. Abercrombie: I wanted Gold and I sought it: I scrabbled and 
mucked like a slave. But I’m happier now, Abercrombie. I’ve taken my 
youth from its grave. This life’s a bally battle, but this advice holds true, 
when strange things are done in the midnight sun, just Grin, like Dan 

Came One, Come All I 

We are strong advocates of any science fiction convention, as a 
wonderful chance to spend a weekend talking and drinking (readers 
under 21 will delete that last word) with people who talk your own 
language. (It is rumored that such conventions also present serious 
programs dealing with the Nature and Position of Science Fiction, 
but we have yet to find anyone who can give us a firsthand account.) 

Naturally enough, we’re particularly anxious to advocate the 
Twelfth World Science Fiction Convention, to be held on Labor 
Day weekend of 1954 in San Francisco. As West Coast editors, we 
know what a high percentage of the best writers and most astute 
readers of science fiction live in this area; and we’re hopeful that this 
may be the most stimulating science fiction weekend yet. 

We’ll bring you more news later as plans are announced, and tell 
you which of your favorite F&SF authors will be among those present. 
Meanwhile the convention needs support; the more early reserva- 
tions the Convention Committee gets, the more surely it can plan 
for your entertainment. 

So send one dollar now to the Twelfth World Science Fiction 
Convention, Box 335, Station A, Richmond 2, Calif., and enroll 
yourself as a member of the convention. See you there next fall! 

** There is a direction science fiction can gOy** Don Fabun, the astute science- 
fantasy reviewer of the San Francisco Chronicle, recently wrote y where 
no earthly science dares to tready yet which is no more * unscientific than 
were stories of radio y television and radiation a scant half century ago. 
This field y dignified by the name * para-psychology y* has to do with the 
forces, unseen but felt, by which the human mind extends its domination 
over the material universe," That physical domination by the immaterial 
may take strange forms, as such researchers as Nandor Fodor have discov- 
ered, and as Peter Phillips demonstrates in this disturbing blend of psy- 
chiatry, fantasy and para-psychology. 

0 <^akepeace 


Regard London suburbanites. Then abandon the attempt at crystalline 
classification. The suburbanite tag is the only thing they have in comnion. 

Some commute. Others tend their gardens. The brick boxes of city clerks 
sidle up close to the fifteen-room mansions of stockbrokers. The party wall 
of a semi-detached villa is a barrier between universes: in this half lives a 
sweetly respectable retired grocer; in the other, a still-active second-storey 
man with a fat and ailing wife and a nymphomaniac daughter. 

Sometimes there’s a community sense. But more often, neighbours stay 
strangers throughout their fives. 

For instance, no one knew 50-year-old Tristram Makepeace. Not even 

British reserve can be a damnably frightening thing. 

One morning, in the long, winding, tree-fined avenue in the so-suburban 
suburb where he lived — 


The postman turned at the gate. Tristram Makepeace hurried down the 
path of his neat, bush-enclosed front garden, leaving the dbor of his villa 

“Not here,” he said, and held out an envelope. 




The postman took it, read the typewritten address. 




The postman, blank-faced, looked at the thin, tall, hollow-cheeked 
bachelor. “That’s you, sir, isn’t it.f^ And it’s your address.’’ 

Makepeace drew his dressing gown closer against the chill morning air. 
His voice was high, with limited range of inflection. “But I don’t know any- 
one named Grabcheek. There’s certainly no one staying with me. It’s lucky 
I was up in time for the delivery this morning. I’m not, as a rule, you know.” 

But the postman returned the letter firmly. “Can’t take it back. Sorry. 
They’d only send it out with the next round. Sure you don’t know anyone 
called Grabcheek?” 

“Of course I’m sure. I can’t accept delivery.” 

The postman hesitated, made a slow admission. “It’s none of my busi- 
ness,” he said. “I usually just look at the address. But knowing you live 
alone — well, it caught my eye. You did accept delivery, you know, just 
the other day. The name stuck in my mind : Grabcheek. And there was an- 
other one before that.” 

Makepeace blinked pale eyes, disturbed. “But I didn’t — I haven’t seen 
anything like this before.” He fluttered the envelope. 

“Well, I shoved ’em through your door. Right address as far as I’m con- 
cerned. Now I’ve got to get on; I’m behind time already.” 

“But this is ridiculous. Look here, my man — ” 

The postman, determinedly preoccupied, duty-bound, snapped the gate 
shut behind him. “Look under the mat,” he said, without glancing up from 
the sheaf of letters in his hand; and he walked on, leaving ex-Captain 
Makepeace very much alone in the world. 

Makepeace looked under the coir mat near his front door as he went 
back in. Dust. Blasted dust everywhere in this place. But no letters. Any- 
way, felling from the letterbox in the door, they couldn’t have slid under 
the mat. The postman was a fool, or mistaken. 

But — Grabcheek was not the sort of name one would forget. 

He examined the envelope. A local postmark. He held it up to the light 
through the glass-panelled door. Nothing showed through. Envelope too 

Not for a moment did it occur to Tristram Makepeace to open it. He 
just wasn’t the sort of man to open another person’s letters. Which should 
indicate what sort of man he was. 

After his inadequate breakfast of tea and toast, he re-enclosed the letter 



in a larger envelope and addressed it to the Post Office in the High Street, 
with a terse note typewritten on his old portable: “No one of that name 
here T, Makepeace'^ 

Then he made a few ineffectual flicks at dust. Sometimes he wished he 
could borrow the vacuum cleaner from the woman next door: a little like 
tanks they were, the way they mopped up the dusty opposition. But the 
neighbour just looked at him with a polite “good morning.” And he 
daren’t ask her. He went to cash his pension cheque, and re-posted the 
double letter on the way. 

He mustn’t worry about the letter. That was a sure way to bring back his 
old trouble. Worrying. And about nothing at all. 

Mustn’t worry. He had his house, his pension, his garden, his books, his 
acquaintances at the local public house. 

He went in there, on his way home, spent his pension more liberally 
than usual. 

He told the regulars about his mystery. 

“Should have opened the bloody thing,” grunted the landlord, irritated 
with honesty that could perpetuate such a mystery. 

“Fancy telling us,” said a straight-gin widow, also annoyed. “Now we 
might never know.” 

Makepeace looked round the bar. “No one here called Grabcheek, I 

A shaking of heads. 

When he got home that afternoon, a little drunk, there had been a second 
postal delivery. 




He thrust the letter into the pocket of his old tweed jacket, went up- 
stairs to sleep on the bed he had forgotten to tidy that morning. 

He awoke with a dry mouth in the early evening, memories of the day 
blurred. He put his hand in his jacket pocket. There was no letter. He 

Mind overlapping itself y Tristram: don t you remember — you posted it bac\ 
to the post office. Or was that another one? Doesnt matter, Dont worry. 

Two days later, Tristram Makepeace, after a night disturbed by dreams of 
flowers floating over a desert, was up again in time to hear the postman’s 
early double knock. 



Two letters were lying on the dusty coir mat. 
One was for: 




The other, officially franked, was for him. It contained the earlier letter 
to Grabcheek and a note from the local post office: “. must inform you 
that this letter was properly delivered, and we have no authority . . •” 

Makepeace did not open either of the Grabcheek letters he held in shaky 
hands in that dusty hallway. 

Don’t blame or praise him. He was the sum of what others had made 
him, and deep, deep, was his dead father saying: It's just not done to open 
other people* s letters^ old man. 

He sent both letters, unopened, to the Postmaster General of Great 
Britain and Northern Ireland. 

He got them back from the PMG’s secretary’s secretary, unopened, 
with red'tape regrets, on a strange and sunny morning a week later. A cov- 
ering note of eyebrow-raised politeness suggested that, as the occupier of 
the villa, he might have a right to open them. 

Very well. 

He would. Blast his father. 

Oh no no no he didn't mean thaU truly he didn't mean thaty what a silly thing 
to say anyway y and he hadn't said ity really y it was something outside A/m, some' 
thing he wasn't responsible fory so touch the wall three times and everything 
will be all right. Don't worry. Mustn't worry. 

Makepeace flung one of the Grabcheek letters on the small table in the 
hallway. Dust fluffed up and made a sunbeam visible. 

He went into his dining room with the other letter and sat down over the 
remains of his breakfast. 

It must be all right to open it. All he had to do was read the sender’s ad- 
dress, then post it back “NOT KNOWN.” 

He opened it. The paper inside was blank. 

Makepeace remembered some of his army language. He swore for thirty 
seconds in his flat, high voice, then ripped envelope and blank sheet into 

“Silly bloody hoax,” he said finally, and felt relieved. 

He went out into the hall to do the same with the other letter. It had 
disappeared from the table. 

Then Mr. Makepeace, very empty, with time at a dead stop In his blank, 
cold mind, fell to his knees and patted at the dusty carpet. He breathed dust. 



He got up. “It was there,” he announced. “It was there. I know. I threw 
it there, and I saw it lying there.” 

He thumb-and-fingered his twitching eyes and touched the wall three 

Dear father^ I love you, Musn't worry. 

Of course he hadn't thrown the letter there. He’d taken it into the din- 
ing room with the other one, and torn both of them up into tiny scraps, 
and put them on the big willow-pattern plate. 

He went back into the dining room, not breathing very deeply. 

There was nothing on the plate, or on the table. No single fragment of 

The house was very still. 

Of course, the postman hadn’t called that morning at all. That was it. 
The whole thing was a damnable half-dream, one of those partly-controlla- 
ble dreams, and he always felt sleepy in the mornings nowadays. 

But the tingling feel of paper being torn . He held himself stiff for a 

moment, refusing to think, forcing hisjnind to rare silence. Then, method- 
ically, unhurried, he looked under the dining room table. He looked at the 
shut windows, fronting on Acacia Avenue. He searched the house, in cup- 
boards, under beds, upstairs, downstairs. 

In the coal cellar, he found himself idly turning over pieces of bad-quality 
coal, watching smooth black shiny surfaces reflect light from the tiny win- 
dow. He had forgotten what he was searching for. 

Half-automatically, army training having been superimposed on a crabbed 
and tidy childhood, he made his bed — he had forgotten to do it one day 
last week, and it had nagged his mind terribly — and went to the public 
house and drank a good deal of whisky. He looked out of the bar window, 
and talked to nobody. 

In his mind there was — 

Clumy clurriy nic}{;noc\y NO . . . hibbledy'hobbledy hoc\, Christ on a thorn 
treey NO; tube a pair of sparging eyes and see that tree. MY FATHER DEATH. 
Forgive me who* s listening. Ym not responsible for whoever puts things lihp that 
in my mindy clumy clumy bibbledy^boy the bastard inflicting this sort of thing on 
me . Noy Gody I didn*t say thaty there s a cold clean sweet chopper coming 
for my heady this way the Rhiney that way home Runey runey ruin the 
runey if I could master the compulsion the chopper would come quicker they 
sayy or would say if they hpew anythingy so let it carry on, . / won't thin\y 

my hands aren't dirtyy I slapped him with my right hand when he was drun\ 
because he hit my motheTy but I apologised and explained. . . . STOP 
THINKING, Or thin\ of anythingy even the barmaid's flabby breasts. 



. . . Mother ... NO . the ashtray . . hard. 

The glass ashtray on the table in front of Mr. Makepeace slithered over 
the beer-wet surface and splintered on the composition floor. He felt a little 
better, treated the publican to a drink, and went home down the tree- 
lined avenue to his villa and a lunch of sausages and worm-eaten spinach 
from his neglected garden. 

After lunch, he took out his wallet to find the covering letter from the 
Postmaster General’s secretary’s secretary. He found nothing but the re- 
mainder of his pension, in crumpled notes. 

He addressed himself to the wall. “I am not going mad,” he said, without 
emphasis. “I am not going mad.” 

That was one of the things he had told himself when an unexpected Ger- 
man shell, ravishing the peaceful sky, had burst near him. 

When he felt pain in his spine and head, undeserved pain, unfair pain, he 
had struggled to his feet near the demolished signal post. He had seen his 
father’s big, lined, hard face in the sky, and as he fell back , again to the 
tumbled brown earth, he said, without moving paralysed lips: “That was a 
dirty trick, daddy. You shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t have hit 
my mother, the sky. . . But I am not going mad. I am not going mad.” 

In the field hospital, sitting up as a nurse washed him, he had clearly seen 
the back of his own neck. And that night, he had perched on the end of his 
own bed and watched himself sleeping. 

Long lemon-washed corridors, with inset black doors, had presaged his 
final discharge from His Majesty’s Service. Beyond one certain black 
door a neurologist — or a psychiatrist — or at least a mechanistic psy- 
chologist — had told him: “We shall recommend you for a forty-per-cent 
pension. If you have any more of these subjective — um — experiences in 
between your half-yearly examinations, just report to the Ministry of 

A thousand forms weaving through blue-shot air: forms AH 5647/45 
(Officer, RAC. Med. Inf., 34), S.O. (Din. 01/16 7896)., Hos. X. (F.P./ 

2333) — so. — 

And now — 

It was all subjective, of course. The Grabcheek letters. The Grabcheek 
Letters, giving them undeserved caps. Like a book he’d read once 
What was it? . It didn’t matter. When his head was clear again 
he’d reread his whole shelf of belles-lettres. . Lamb. Whose Lamb led 
to what unexplained slaughter? 

Sometime, said Mr. Makepeace to himself, with what little was left 
of his conscious mind, I must distemper the walls of this room again. 



Meantime, he must obey orders. 

Write to the Ministry. Ask for an examination. Write now. 

Or wait until tomorrow, when he could check with the postman whether 
he had called that morning. 

Now it was late afternoon, with an old, yellow sun putting cheap gilt 
on the roofs of the houses over the way. Now it was too late to write, any- 
way, for the last post had gone. Tomorrow would do. Tomorrow would 
always do. 

Now was the time to walk down to the local public house and tell some 
quite untrue tales of his soldiering days, after taking the edge off his reserve 
with whisky. 

quite a character when W "^ad one or two. Lives all alone in 
Acacia Avenue, . Why dont V marry? As\ Hm, Always good for a 

gin, though. Queer old bird?^ 

Mr. Makepeace walked into the hallway and examined himself in the 

Old? At 50? 

Yes, and tired. 

He went to bed. 

He waited at his dining room bay window the next morning, watching 
the slow progress of the postman who seemed to be calling at almost every 
house on his side of the avenue. 

He waited until the postman was about to open his front-garden gate, 
then hurried out to meet him. 




Makepeace was aware of the cold morning air, the gravel underfoot, a 
blackbird singing from the laurel bushes, milk bottles clinking together 
somewhere nearby, the postman’s stupid unshaven face; and, faintly, from 
a neighbouring house, “This is the B.B.C. Home Service. Here is the eight 
o’clock news. . .” 

“Found out who he is yet?” asked the postman. 


Tristram Makepeace turned back along the path towards his house. 
It was waiting for him. The door into the ever-dusty hallway was open. 
It was the mouth of the house, and it was open. 

The eyes of the house, asymmetrical windows, were blazing, yellow and 
hungry in the early sun. 



He wanted to run after the postman and talk with him; or go up the 
road to the milkman and ask him about his wife and children, talking and 
talking to reassert this life and his living of it. 

But they would think he was mad; and he was not mad. The cold began 
to strike through his thin slippers and dressing gown, so he walked slowly 
back up the gravel pathway into the mouth of the house, and closed the 
door behind him. 

He opened the envelope, took out the blank sheet, tore it through. 
The equal halves fluttered to the floor. He tried to keep his brain as blank 
as the sheet of paper. It would be nice, came the sudden thought, if he 
could take his brain out and wash it blank and white and clean under clear 
running water. 

A dark, itching foulness compounded of a million uninvited pictures 
was trying to force its way into his mind. . strike your god, your 
father, see him stand surprised with the red marks of your fingers on his 
cheek. . . . and your lovely virgin mother. 


He shouted the negation, forced the pictures back, and stood trembling 
with the effort. 

Three times three on this wall, three times three on that wall . . Keep 

it down, hard, and if you cant be blanl^, thin\ blind, ... If that barrier 
goes, Ym done for, . / need help, 

Mr. Makepeace dressed, and sat down at his old typewriter to compose 
a sweetly pedantic letter to the Ministry of Pensions, asking for an inter- 
view by a psychiatrist. 

He wrote, in part: “I cannot doubt the objective reality of these foolish 
hoax letters, since the postman would confirm that I have received them; 
but I fear that their subsequent apparent disappearance may be the result 
of short phases of amnesia, attended by false memories, in which I secretly 
destroy them. . . • Please treat this matter as urgent.” 

“ ‘Subsequent apparent disappearance,’ ” murmured a Ministry clerk. 
“Oh Gawd.” He stamped the letter wrong depar™ent. passed to 
MINISTRY OF HEALTH, and placed it in a tray for routine collection by 
interdepartmental messenger the next day. 

On the second day of waiting, Mr. Makepeace’s head was numb with 
the effort of not thinking. 

His letter was routed through the Ministry of Health, marked for 


On the fourth day of waiting, as Mr. Makepeace sat head-in-hands 
at his breakfast table, the morning newspaper, which he had not bothered 



to pick up from the mat inside the front door, dropped through the ceding, 
and spilt a cup of cold tea in front of him. He laughed. 

Now he dared not leave his dusty house, for that would be running away. 
And he might meet a chance acquaintance who would pity him. 

He looked over his shoulder and laughed again, a curious little high- 
pitched giggle. There were tears in his eyes. 

The secretary of the Medical Board, District E, on Form EOH/563, 
wrote to an Army Medical Board, asking for the case-history papers relating 
to ex-Captain Tristram Makepeace. 

On the fifth day of waiting, thin, proud, foolish Mr. Makepeace, who 
had no intimate friends, no near relations, no anchor in slipping reality, 
and no imagination, spent the day walking round inside his house and 
addressing each fece of each inner wall, three times each time, with a new 
compulsive rune designed to cleanse the inner walls of his brain of an 
accretion of dust. 

On the morning of the seventh day, the woman next door hastily 
phoned for an ambulance. 

Mr. Makepeace, pale eyes quite blank in his gaunt face, was leaning from 
his bedroom window and screaming. 

She made out a few words: “The barrier’s down. I can’t stand it.” 

“He must have been fighting that Oedipus-complex-cycle for years,” 
said the Superintendent thoughtfully. “Then — phutl — sheer pressure 
plunges him into psychosis.” He looked again at the encephalograph. 
“A classical schizophrenic overnight.” 

“Be damned,” said his young assistant. “No ordinary schizo — save the 
mark — ever exhibits such a clear-cut, contrasting duality.” 

“Which is he this morning?” asked the Superintendent. 

“Grabcheek, writing himself another letter care of Tristram Makepeace. 
The handwriting is quite distinctive. Incidentally, police checked on those 
Grabcheek envelopes we found in his pockets. They were definitely typed 
on his machine.” 

“But no actual letters were found — only blank sheets. So what is he 
writing now?” 

The young assistant stared out of the office window. “ ‘Your father 
sends you his best wishes, and hopes he will meet you soon,’ ” he quoted. 

“Poor devil,” said the Superintendent. “At least he can’t post them 
to himself now.” 

The assistant drew a sealed envelope from his pocket. “This was in the 
mail this morning. We had to pay excess postage because it wasn’t stamped.” 







The Superintendent jerked upright in his chair. “But how in the name 
of heaven . He’s been isolated here for the past week!” 

“A self'haunted man isn’t bound by the three-dimensional limitations 
of his main personality. Read a few case-histories of poltergeist phenomena 
and you’ll see what I mean. ‘The poltergeist is not a ghost. It is a bundle 
of projected repressions.’ That’s a quote from a book you refused to read — 

“Nonsense,” muttered the Superintendent. “A dissociated personality 
cannot have a separate objective existence!” 

“According to that book it can,” the other persisted. “You might give 
it a try: Haunted People^ by Hereward Carrington and Nandor Fodor. 
Fodor even encountered such dissociations in his psychiatric practise.” 

“No Nor the Superintendent said sharply. “Someone smuggled 
that letter out for him and posted it.” 

“Without a stamp?” the assistant grinned. The grin faded. 

“It’s a damnable theory,” he admitted. “The other personality is almost 
invariably evil. In Tibet, adepts deliberately purge their minds of what 
we would call neurotic symbolism by projecting thanai — thoughts which 
coalesce into evil spirits, which are then dissipated. Or not.” 

“And thus,” said the Superintendent, “the Abominable Snowman?” He 

At an empty house in a so-suburban suburb that morning, the postman 
delivered a final letter. It fluttered to the doormat. It was addressed — 
without the concession of a % now — to: 



As the footsteps of the preoccupied, duty-bound postman died away, 
the letter zig-zagged upwards from the mat, poised in mid-air. 

Something laughed. 

Though most science-fantasy writers are in New York or Calif ornia^ we get 
stories from all over the world; and a large number of the most entertaining 
imaginative speculations to land on our desk recently have been coming from 
San M.iguel de Allende^ Mexico, In this small town of the state of Guana- 
juatOy Mack Reynolds has discovered that he can live in luxury even on a 
pulp-writer s income; and this agreeable sense of affluence seems to be 
stimulating him to his liveliest flights of fancy. We had thought that Mr. 
Reynolds had pretty well covered the subject of time travel and alternate 
continua in such deft exercises as The Business, As Usual (^F&SF, June, 
igjd) and The Adventure of the Snitch in Time QF&SF, July, igsj); 
but here is yet another adroit variant . with a startling footnote to the 
alternate history of our own Old West. 

T’he Other Alternative 


The little man brought a bit of paper from an inner pocket and checked 
it. He looked up at the number on the office building and returned the note 
to his pocket. He went on three or four doors and then turned to walk past 
his destination again. On the third try, he made it. 

He entered the lobby, took several times longer than was necessary at the 
directory and finally approached the elevators. 

From the side of his mouth the starter said, “Bet he’s going to a dentist.” 

“Or Alternatives, Inc.” the elevator boy said. 

It was Alternatives, Inc. 

The little man got out at the fourth floor and after the elevator had gone 
set his narrow shoulders and pushed his way through heavy glass doors into 
a swank reception room. 

Miss Myers looked up and did what she was paid to do. She smiled charm- 
ingly and said, “Yes, sir.'^” 

The little man took his hat from his head, cleared his throat foolishly and 
said, “I want to kill Billy the Kid.” 

Without the smile slipping an iota she checked her pad. “That would be 
our Mr. Demming,” she said. “Who shall I say is calling.^” 




He took on courage. “Eh, Smith. Tell him Mr. Smith.” 

“John Smith?” 

Mr. Smith even essayed a feeble joke. “Are there any others?” 

Into her inter-office communicator she said, “Mr. Demming? A Mr. 
Smith to confer with you.” She looked up and said, “Mr. Demming will 
see you immediately, Mr. Smith.” 

He made his way as directed down a short corridor to the third door, 
knocked and waited for an invitation to enter. 

The invitation was prompt, bubbling with cordiality and a bit too ag- 
gressive for Mr. Smith. However, he shook the hand thrust upon him and 
mumbled banalities in answer to the ones he heard. 

“Sit down, sir. Please sit down.” Mr. Demming indicated a chair near his 

Mr. Smith looked at the third occupant of the room. “Aren’t we going 
to be alone?” 

“Excuse me. Let me introduce our Mr. Jeffers. Mr. Smith, Mr. Jeffers. 
Mr. Jeffers is new with the concern, Mr. Smith. I am helping to break him 
in to his new duties. I’m sure you won’t mind,” 

Another handshake. 

Mr. Smith cleared his throat. “Well, it is a bit personal, you know. If you 
don’t . .” 

“Not at all. Not at all. You mustn’t mind either of us, Mr. Smith.” Mr. 
Demming deliberately eluded the point. “After all, this is your show. 
Ha ha. Your money pays for it. You must look upon us as your faithful 

Mr. Smith conceded the position rather than discuss it further. 

When they were settled, Mr. Demming behind a desk innocent of paper 
or pen, Mr. Smith cleared his throat again and brought it out quickly. 
“My psychi my doctor’s instructions were to come here and have 
you make arrangements for me to kill Billy the Kid.” 

The other nodded understandingly. “Of course.” 

“I imagine this sounds silly to . .” 

Mr. Demming held up his hand reassuringly. “Not at all, sir, not at all, 
believe me. I understand perfectly. 

“Then you can do it?” 

“Of course. No question at all. Ha ha. Except, of course, the financial 

Mr. Smith was on firmer ground. “I’ve brought cash.” 

“Excellent,” Mr. Demming beamed. “The sum will be $10,000.” 

“I see. I suppose that there is a guarantee?” 

Mr. Demming pursed his friendly lips. “Ah, a partial one. We will place 



you in a position to shoot to death Billy the Kid, known historically as 
William Bonney, I believe. That we will guarantee. Whether or not you 
have the determination to do the deed, is, of course, up to you.” 

“I see.” 

Mr. Demming held out his hands, palms upward. “Obviously, that is 
all we can do, Mr. Smith.” He turned to his associate. “Isn’t that obvious, 
Mr. Jelfers? Mr. Smith wants to shoot Billy the Kid. We can put him in 
the position to do so, but we can hardly pull the trigger. If we did, ha ha, 
then it would not be Mr. Smith who was killing Billy the Kid, and, after 
all, that is what we are being paid for, to let Mr. Smith perform the deed.” 

It was a little involved but Mr. Jeffers nodded his stanch agreement. 
“Yes, that is obviously right.” 

Mr. Smith sank back into his chair and thought about it for a moment. 
Finally he cleared his throat again. “Very well, but now I want some reas- 
surance. First, if you send me back in time, how do I know I shall ever 

Mr. Demming was suave. “Ah, yes. Now, first of all, Mr. Smith, you must 
understand that Alternatives, Inc. does not exactly send you back in time.” 


Mr. Demming held up a hand. “Yes, I understand what you are thinking. 
How are you going to be able to meet Billy the Kid if you are not sent back 
in time? You see, Mr. Smith, as far as we know there is no way of traveling 
in time. However, we are capable, through various developments pioneered 
by Alternatives, Inc., to move from one space- time continuum to another.” 

“I ... I don’t believe I follow you.” 

“Well, Mr. Smith, we have found that there is more than just one uni- 
verse. In fact, we have discovered that there are an infinite number of 
alternate universes, or space-time continua, co-existing.. A moment’s re- 
flection will bring home various ramifications. In short, Mr. Smith, some- 
where everything has happened, will happen, and is happening. Every- 

“This is a little hard to comprehend.” 

“Of course. However, it is true. Somewhere, Mr. Smith, the South won 
the Civil War and slavery still exists in Dixie. Somewhere, Lee was a north- 
ern general and Grant finished his life a drunken panhandler. In some of 
these alternate universes, the Civil War was never fought. Indeed, Mr. 
Smith, in some of this endless multitude of alternate universes Columbus 
never discovered America.” 

“It’s mind-shaking, isn’t it?” 

Mr. Jeffers put in a word there. “It certainly is.” 

Mr. Demming rubbed his hands together most businesslike. “The prob- 



lem that confronts us here is to have you switched to another space-time 
continuum. One very similar to our own, identical, in fact, except that it is 
roughly a hundred years before the time in which we exist.” 

“I see.” Mr. Smith didn’t but the conversation was confusing him. 

,Mr. Demming pressed the button on the inter-office communicator and 
said, “Billy the Kid. United States, approximately 1880, I believe. Better 
have Harry fix up a .38 Recoilless.” The communicator said, “Can do,” 
and Mr. Demming switched it off. 

He turned back to his client. ‘ We will slip you into a suitable situation 
to perform your task, of course.” 

Mr. Smith was gaining confidence. He said, “Now look here, this Billy 
the Kid was no halfibaked juvenile delinquent. I want some assurance 
that .” 

The other smiled deprecatingly, his hands came out again, palms upward. 
“Mr. Smith . please. Believe me, we haven’t lost a client yet. Now then, 
have you had any experience with firearms.?^” 

“I have belonged to the Mid town Rifle and Pistol Association for the 
past ten years.” 

“Fine. Now then, suppose you were to meet Mr. Bonney, Billy the Kid, 
under the following circumstances: He is intoxicated and quite alone. His 
guns have been carelessly left in another room. You will be armed with a 
.38 Recoilless with explosive shells.” 

‘I see. But . . well, suppose something does go wrong?” 

“Nothing can. Mr. Smith, we send you back at just the split second when 
you will find him in the most advantageous situation. You fire the gun. 
The explosive shell is so powerful as to destroy him no matter where your 
bullet strikes him.” 

“But if something does go wrong?” 

“Then, Mr. Smith, you merely press a small stud, built into the side of 
the gun. This will trigger the mechanism which will bring you back to this 
universe, safe from Billy the Kid or any other danger.” 

“I see.” Mr. Smith thought it over some more. He said, “Are there addi- 
tional charges in the gun?” 

“There is no need for more than one, but if you wish.” 

“You’d better have all six chambers loaded. You would be surprised, 
gentlemen, some of the things that can develop, even in this — ah, con- 
tinuum, that you haven’t considered at first. Why sometimes I get into 
situations . .” 

“Yes, I’m sure you do, Mr. Smith, but believe me, this is foolproof.” 
Mr. Demming cleared his throat, realizing that wasn’t exactly the way to 
put it, and added, “Ha ha.” 


44 ' 

There was a knock at the door and a newcomer entered with a .38 re- 
volver in one hand, an innocent-appearing flashlight-like device in the 
other. He seemed bored. 

“Ready?” he said. 

Mr. Demming said, “Ready, Mr. Smith? Ah, load the other chambers of 
the gun, Harry.” 

Mr. Smith said, “Just a moment, now. Let’s go over this again.” 

Mr. Demming said, “It is very simple. Here is your gun. You know its 
operation, of course. When you say the word we will instantly translate you 
to an alternate space-time continuum in which Billy the Kid, at about the 
age of twenty, will be enjoying a drunken orgy, unarmed and alone. You 
will shoot him, then press this stud on the side of the gun. You will then 
automatically be returned to this continuum. Clear?” 

Mr. Smith took the gun and a deep breath. “Very well,” he said. 



The technician switched on the flashlight-like device and Mr. Smith 
turned hazy, wavered a moment in the air and then disappeared. 

The technician turned to leave. 

“Thanks, Harry,” Mr. Demming said. 

“All in a day’s work. Don’t forget to return that gun as soon as this guy 
gets back. I don’t want it setting around full of them extra explosive shells.” 
Harry closed the door behind him. 

“Is that all there is to it?” Jeffers asked. 

“That’s all. You’ll probably handle half a dozen of this type of case a 

“What! You mean six screwballs come in here every day wanting to kill 
Billy the Kid?” 

Mr. Demming grinned at him. “You think that eventually we’d run out 
of Billy the Kids, eh? Thank goodness there are an infinite number of 
alternate universes. But that’s not quite it. I don’t mean that they always 
pick that one desperado. In fact, their tastes are quite catholic. Last week 
I had Jesse James killed twice. Bob Dalton once, John Dillinger twice and 
Joseph Stalin four times. The way they want to assassinate Joseph Stalin is a 
caution. Also, you sometimes get Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon man and 
often Robin Hood or • . .” 

“Robin Hood! But many he’s fictional!” 

Mr. Demming said with pleasant patience, “My dear Jeffers, you must 
realize that when there are an infinite number of alternate universes, literally 
everything has happened, will happen and is happening. True enough, Robin 
Hood is a mythological or fictional character in this universe, but in an 



infinite number of other universes he is, was, or will be very real indeed.” 

Mr. Jeffers shook his head. “Fm not sure Fll ever quite grasp all of the 
ramifications.” He looked down at his watch. “Just how long should this 

Mr. Demming shrugged. “Only a few minutes. He’s probably gloating 
over the body right now.” 

Mr. Jeffers shivered. “So cold-blooded. Of course, Fm not opposed to 
taking $ 10,000 from anyone willing to give it up — but how can he possibly 
do it? And, above all, why should he want to?” 

“My dear Jeffers, ha ha, don’t question Providence. The psychiatrists 
are currently going through a most profitable fad — for us. They are of 
the opinion that patients with inferiority complexes can be cured by finding 
some idol they have raised in their minds and proving themselves superior 
to this superman.” 

“Then Smith . . .” 

“Definitely,” Mr. Demming laughed. “Probably all of his life he has felt 
quite inadequate and from boyhood has built up this callow gunman of the 
Nineteenth Century as the symbol of all that he, Smith, is not. He has most 
likely always liked guns. Did you note that he has belonged to a gun club for 
a decade? He probably reads westerns and tunes in horse operas on his TV. 
Meanwhile, he is constantly developing his complex because he, himself, 
cannot shoot down Indians by the score, ride horses over the plains, and 
do whatever the old cowboys supposedly did.” 

“But shooting this Billy the Kid — ” 

Mr. Demming looked down at his own watch. “He should be returning 
any moment now. Ah, yes, the shooting. Don’t you see? The doctors are 
very possibly correct. Through the services of Alternatives, Inc., we are 
able to allow our Mr. Smith to destroy this super-gunman of the Old West. 
What better way to remove the feeling of inferiority? To actually shoot Billy 
the Kid to death!” 

“You know, it sounds plausible at that.” 

“Well, whether or not it is, we get paid well. And, of course, since no one 
witnesses the event and since it doesn’t even take place in our own universe, 
no laws are broken.” Demming looked at his watch again. “I wonder where 
the devil he is? The instructions were clear enough. All he had to do was 
press the stud and he would be returned here immediately.” 

Jeffers said, “Ah, he’s coming back now.” 

A smoky apparition began gathering again in the center of the room, to 
solidify almost immediately. 

But it wasn’t Mr. Smith. 

There in the center of the office stood a tall, lanky character with a star 



pinned conspicuously to his vest. The .38 Recoilless was in one hand, a long- 
barreled Colt in the other. 

“What . what . sputtered Mr. Demming, upsetting his chair 
behind him as he scrambled to his feet. 

The newcomer’s eyes went from one of them to the other, then slowly 
about the room. 

“So the little feller wasn’t spoofin’, eh?” he drawled. “Tell you the truth 
I didn’t really cotton to that story he spun about alternate universes and 
everything when I caught him. But I reckoned I’d oughta be fair and press 
this stud when he said it’d prove his yarn. . .” 

He looked them up and down. “Name’s Garrett, Sheriff Pat Garrett, 
Lincoln County. You gents are under arrest, accessories to murder.” 

“But what . what could possibly . .” 

Pat Garrett’s soft voice registered self-deprecation. “ ’Twasn’t really 
nothin’. Just managed to shoot this here fancy gun out of the little feller’s 
hand, not hardly a minute after he shot poor Billy.” 

The sheriff scratched the bottom of his chin with the fore sight of the 
.38 Recoilless. “Course, I was after the Kid myself. Woulda caught him, 
too, ifn it hadn’t been for yore Mr. Smith. But shootin’ a gent down in cold 
blood is still murder and I’m taking you two back to stand trial with the 
little feller.” 

Mr. Demming had recovered to the point where he could attempt to 
regain control of the situation. 

“Ha ha, sheriff,” he said, “this isn’t really your jurisdiction you know. 
I’m afraid that might be a bit difficult.” 

The eyes of Pat Garrett narrowed. “Oh, I don’t know, gents,” he said, 
thumbing back the hammer of the Colt. “Now, I’m giving you exactly five 
minutes to make the arrangements.” 

A firstrate TV writer plagued by sponsors who ''don't believe in fantasy^* 
Doris Gilbert likes to turn for refreshment to the short story ^ where she can 
freely use fantasy devices to cast light on certain fields of human activity. 
In The Chocolate Coach (^F&SF^ January y i 9 jf)y she used time travel 
to afford a brilliant picture of the theater y present and past. Now she em- 
ploys a sort of metempsychosis — the transfer of souls — to illuminate the 
world of artists and art dealers and to tell a moving human story with a 
problem which jjth Street can never solve. 

^Arrangement in Green 


Do YOU KNOW who I am? Who I really am? My body was fished out of the 
East River on June 9, 1950 . 1 died, to all intents and purposes on the seventh, 
wilfully, of drowning. I say ‘Vilfully of drowning” because, technically, 
Fm not a suicide — not in the exact sense of the word. You see, Fm still 
around. I only got rid of my own body, the body that went around under 
the uncelebrated name of Joe Brand because nobody would ever give a damn 
about or spend any money on or sing out the praises of Joe Brand unless he 
were dead. 

Oh, they dug me up all right. They had to. I saw to that. They exhumed 
the mortal remains of Joseph M. Brand from Potter’s Field, lifted him up 
tenderly and carried him all the way to beautiful Woodlawn Cemetery and 
the Mayor made a speech and the Museum of Modern Art commissioned 
an abstract in marble, a harmonious mass of non-objective forms with my 
name chipped out in it — so I now had not only a dignified grave, but one 
with a monument on it. And I stood by, in striped pants and a morning coat 
with a flower in my buttonhole, and watched it. 

You might say, in order to bring this about, in order to take a starving, 
unknown artist and make a Great One out of him, it became necessary for 
me to swipe another body to walk around in. The body I now inhabit is 
still walking around. It looks just like a Man of Distinction. It is a Man of 
Distinction. In fact, it was one of the first those whisky-makers latched onto, 
several years ago — Harry Everson, Dealer in Art, sitting on his Noguchi 




desk, in the inner office of the Everson Galleries on 57th Street, with a long 
tall glass in his hand. 

But I want to talk about Joe Brand, because Fm not telling this out of 
braggadocio or because I happen to have pulled (with certain help) the 
neatest trick of any millennium. I’m scared. I’m frightened. I’m still inse- 
cure and I’ve got to prove something. I’m scared and I’m frightened because 
it may be too late to prove it. I want to get back to Joe Brand. 

When I was Joe Brand. 

I was 38 years old and hungry and disappointed and gifted and tired. 
I’d been an artist since I was ten. Even then, I was sold, body and soul, lock, 
stock and barrel to the Fine but Unfruitful Arts. I wouldn’t have it any 
other way. It never occurred to me to paint cover girls or design wall paper 
or work for Disney or do whatever a lot of other talented men may do to 
keep body and soul and sanity together. But then, I couldn’t. As I said, I had 
already given body and soul and sanity away. I was good — that was why. 
Really good. If you believe in the trashy phrase “Selling Out” (which I 
don’t) — I couldn’t sell out. It wasn’t mine to sell. It belonged on canvas, 
the way I saw it, with everything I had. 

Now that’s fine. That’s good. That’s epic and it’s noble. It may not be 
the way it has to be but it is the way it should be. You can’t quarrel with 

And being a modern, Twentieth-Century man, formerly an East Side 
slum kid, self-taught and well-taught, I didn’t have any illusions about 
what my lot ^was. Matisse was one in a million to live to a ripe old age and 
enjoy the fruits of Fine but Most Commonly Unfruitful Art. There were 
twenty Van Goghs for every Matisse — unwept, unhonored, unsung until 
the shovelful of dirt in the face could make them immortal. Dead, therefore 
deathless — what a paradox! 

I thought about it a lot but I accepted it; how, now, today with no Court 
composers, it was even tougher on men who wanted to write great music. 
An artist could sell a painting once in a while. I never heard of anybody 
saying, “Here’s a hundred bucks; I’d like to buy your sonata. . . .” 
Mostly, I accepted it. Once in a while. I’d rebel — usually after I’d sat 
around with the one other artist I knew (I don’t like to run with the pack; 
it’s like talking to yourself; there’s something incestuous about it) and I’d 
come back to my little room with the good north light and the sweating 
coldwater walls and I’d do a Tom Sawyer. I’d try to figure out how I could 
have the game and the fame. I wanted to come to my own funeral and hear 
them crying. I wanted to hear some new, young artist compared to Joe 
Brand. And, being formerly a Lower East Side kid who could fully appre- 
ciate this — I wanted to eat, too. 



But as far as I knew, or anyone knew, barring a Matisse, a Wagner, a 
Goya who happily belonged to a wealthy king who went in for that kind of 
thing — you had to be dead to be discovered and gone to be great. 

Once, right after I finished “Arrangement in Green” (recently sold by 
my own hand to that Pasadena collector for $75,000), I stood back and 
looked at it and wondered what the Hell to do with it and I thought about 
maybe if I could do a hoax. What kind of hoax did I know of that had 
worked? There was the European artist who went around painting Old 
Masters and selling them as such, who had to make like Rembrandt, who 
could never be himself. There was little Chatterton in the Eighteenth 
Century, the poor little teen-age kid pretending his poems were written 
in antiquity by an obscure monk so they’d pay some attention to him. 
And all the attention they paid him is they broke his heart and he died only 
eighteen years old. 

No, I wouldn’t try anything. I just stood there looking at my “Arrange- 
ment in Green” and in love with it and enjoying it and proud as Hell until 
it got dark and there was no light to look and my head ached. Anyway, 
that night I was too excited to eat so I went out and got a pint of gin. 

I was 38 years old and tired of living only I wasn’t tired of painting when 
one word on the front of a magazine showed me what to do. 

It was the issue of Time Magazine that had Arthur Godfrey on the cover 
and one word beneath his picture: Empathy, 

I remember picking it up in a barbershop and looking at it and wonder- 
ing, “What the Hell is empathy?” 

So I looked it up. 

The article was all about Godfrey and it said he had empathy for mil- 
lions — empathy meaning the power of projecting yourself into other 
people. It was more than sympathy; it went right inside. It seems that most 
creative people have it. Actors, of course. Writers, which explains their 
particular personality problem. When you have ten heads it’s hard to know ' 
which one is supposed to make up your mind ! 

I sat there staring at the printed page but all the other words had van- 
ished. All I saw was Empathy, That morning a woman had come into the 
gallery down in the Village where “Arrangement in Green” was hanging 
and wanted to buy it for $65. I told the dealer to tell the woman what she 
could do. I needed that money in the worst way but it griped my soul. 
Someday, somebody else was going to pay a fortune for it. Someday, it 
would belong to Ali Khan’s grandson or the President of the United States 
or they’d loan it to a museum on Mars and send it over on one of Brinks* 
specially bonded spaceships. And I’d be gone. I’d be nothing. What would 
it mean to me? 



Well, I thought, maybe it wouldn’t be so tragic if I believed in reincarna- 
tion but suppose I came back as a sturgeon? The barber at chair number 
three was telling me, “You’re next!” when I thought what a magnificent 
thing it would be if I came back as my own dealer — kind of a Lord Mil- 
bank in the Twenty-First Century. Half a million dollars for one medium- 
sized Joe Brand! 

“You’re next,” barber said. This time I heard him. 

I shook my head No, “I’m supposed to look like I’m a starving artist. 
No wonder they call them Les Fauves.” 

The crazy ones. The wild people. Zip-What-Is-It? I closed the copy of 
Time and threw it down and it landed face up. That word just lay there, 
staring back at me from the cover. Empathy, 

I went back to my room and started remembering. That’s how I work — 
from memory. When I’m out in the field and I see something, I never make 
sketches because they never do me any good later on. Too flat. Too black- 
and-white. Nothing is black-and-white. I think in color: how the light falls, 
how light is life and with tone on tone you can build into dimensions. That 
day in my room, I kept walking around, remembering. There were the 
things I had seen on Easter Sunday in the Puerto Rican section on ii6th 
Street. I remembered the festive six-year-old kid prancing around in his big 
brother’s shirt. The shirt had been all different colored stripes. He looked 
like he was swallowed up in an awning, but the light — the pride and the 
glory in his small, pinched face — was something to behold. The colors had 
been wonderful. 

Easter Sunday. I started to paint it from memory but that’s all I had 
when night fell. Memory. Sharp, clear and forceful. But 7 couldn’t do any- 

Into whom? I wanted it here and I wanted it now — but project myself 
into whom? Who was the best and the biggest and the classiest art dealer in 
America? Who had the connections and the know-how to give it to me, 
Joe Brand, right here and right now? Harry Everson. Anybody knew that. 
Harry Everson could take a painting some chowder-head in the nut-hatch 
had painted with his big toe and get any one of the Forty Biggest Bank 
Accounts to think it was good and buy it. If he wanted to! But people like 
me couldn’t get to people like Everson. I knew I couldn’t get to him. But 
I wanted like insanity to get into him! If my mind or soul or whatever my 
stuffing was could be transplanted inside of Harry Everson, I could force 
him to do what I wanted. 

I hadn’t eaten in two days. Not much, anyway. Light-headed. Floaty. 
I floated uptown on the subway and got off at 57th Street. I drifted like a 
goddamn cloud suspended over the pavement or like George Price’s Levi- 



tated Man, through and around and past the crowds, airborne into the 
Everson Galleries. I didn’t even know why I came there or what I was 
going to do. Formless. Harry (suddenly, to me he was Harry!) was showing 
Miros this week and I wasn’t the least little interested. I guess I wanted to 
see Harry. 

I saw him. What an expensive-looking character! So smooth you could 
skate on him! That cold, too — under the charm, in the brain, back of that 
wonderful, wooing voice. He was talking to a woman in a beat-up hat and 
an outsize vicuna coat, with several sets of six figures written all over her. 
They were standing in front of a Miro: four kindergarten dots and a comet’s 
tail in vermilion. 

Oh, shuffle off this mortal coil! Oh, get out of my skin, before it’s too 
late, my love! Transplant me. Daddy! Let me be him. 

“That’s the funniest idea I ever heard of,” somebody said at my elbow. 
“Imagine wanting to go jump inside somebody else’s headr 
It was a low voice; a throaty one. A couple of keys higher than Tallulah’s. 
It belonged to a woman, but I was afraid to turn around and look at her. 

I just stood there deliberately not thinking anything. My mind got stuck, 
fust then, a secretary or somebody came over to Harry Everson with a glass 
of water. He looked at his watch, reached into an inside pocket and took 
out a golden pill box. Probably a small Cellini. He took a couple of pills, 
smiled his thanks with a ravishing smile at the secretary, took the glass of 
water and took the pills. 

“Nitroglycerin,” said the voice at my elbow. “He takes nitroglycerin.” 
“Huh?” I couldn’t help saying, still not looking around. 

“He isn’t trying to blow himself up,” she said. “He has to take it to live. 
He’s got a terrible heart. Would you want to have that, too?"' 

“As long as I know he can afford the nitroglycerin,” I said. “He can af- 
ford closets-full.” 

I didn’t ask it to but my head turned to look at her. The balance of me 
was sweating all over, oozing like the walls in my room. Cold ooze. I turned 
and looked, hoping there was nobody there. She was a nice-looking woman 
— not very young. She had a high-bridged nose, umber-colored eyes, darker 
hair worn smooth and she had on a slender tailored suit and was carrying 
some refined-looking furs. She didn’t even look like anything special. She 
didn’t answer any of the descriptions commonly ascribed to she-devils. 

“It’s no funnier my looking like this, than it is you wanting to turn into 
Harry Everson so you can make yourself famous,” she said, and walked 
over to one of the pictures on exhibit. “Miro,” she said and curled her lip. 

Two days of no food. All that aggravation in the morning about the 



woman who offered sixty-five bucks for one of my better paintings. I still 
felt weightless, afloat, like somebody had slipped my moorings. Direction- 
less. The only way I knew to go was over to her. 

“Why don’t you try it?” she said. “Try it now.” 

“Try what?” 

“You know. For size. See if it works.” 

“How do you do it?” 

She shrugged one shoulder a little. “You just do it.” 

Harry Everson was still talking in low tones to his vicuna-coated cus- 
tomer. Actually, I didn’t feel like I was in myself anyway. All day I had 
been leaving myself, more and more. I said something silly to myself like, 
“Get on your mark! Get set. . .” and I didn’t even feel a jolt when Harry 
Everson said to the woman in the beat-up hat, “But have you ever seen a 
Joe Brand?'^ 

When he said it, I was standing there, superimposed over him, looking 
into the shiny pince-nez of his well-heeled client. And as soon as I was back 
again (it only lasted about half a minute), he was looking like he had been 
jolted. He worried an eyebrow, pulled at his collar, puzzled. Some kind of 
double talk had just spewed out of his mouth and he had no frame of refer- 
ence for the source. You could see it. It was written all over him. 

“A who?"' the woman with him said. 

“Uh, some of the Paul Klees,” Harry Everson said, not covering quickly. 

“It’s too temporary this way,” the she-devil said to me. “It can’t possibly 
do much good. You know yourself you’d have to be gone. It won’t do to 

“What are you trying to do,” I asked her, “go Biblical on me? An eye for 
an eye and a tooth for a tooth? You making bargains?” 

“Don’t you think $75,000 for ‘Arrangement in Green’ is one Hell of a 

“In Hell or out of it?” I asked her. 

In the cool, lime-green light just before dawn with the air very still and 
very warm even for June, I stood on the embankment just below Sutton 
Place. Harry Everson lived in one of the buildings above me. He was there 
this minute and he was about to have another heart attack. Lucifer’s lady 
relative had done some whacky-looking designs with a compass on a piece 
of map-paper and said this would be the time to do the switch, after which 
she kindly went out of my life. She explained that when Harry was about to 
flicker out was the time for me to flicker in — easier, of course, and neater, 
not so messy, if I didn’t try to get in dragging a i48-p6und load by the name 
of Joe Brand. 



I was now about to drop that load. The light was lime-green all around 
me and the river below dark-green, oily and Stygian. It was kind of that El 
Greco green in “Outside Toledo.” There was the gray pile of buildings back 
and above me and Welfare Island out there looking like a dungeon. Even 
with my body on I was traveling light. I wasn’t leaving any family to speak 
of: an uncle and a cousin, not even here. There wasn’t any woman to speak 
of either, to say goodbye to silently now or regret. I was dedicated. I had 
known right along that with me it was better to burn than to marry. I was 
leaving my paintings, but I knew where they were, every last one of them, 
and I’d go and get them myself, sitting behind Harry Everson’s chauffeur 
when the time was right. 

So lose the body! And don’t lose time. 

I jumped. 

The body went down but I wasn’t with it when it hit the dark green 
water. By that time, I was Harry Everson choking for breath while the 
doctor gave me the nitroglycerin in the veins. It seems I just missed the last 
gasp in the oxygen tent in the fission of a second, but I managed a genuine, 
authentic Harry Everson smile for the doctor before I went to sleep, relaxed 
and exhausted like the brand-new born. 

The next morning when I was having my breakfast (they said I slept for 
more than twenty-four hours and the nurse said I smiled as I slept) I thought 
what an even deal had been made: a soul for a soul and a body for a body. 

I gave up the body and Everson the soul, provided he had any, I wouldn’t 
know, but I seemed to have inherited all of his acumen as soon as I was able 
to be up and around and think things through. 

My timing couldn’t have been better. I waited several weeks until after 
the unidentified man had been fished out of the river, shedding no tear 
when I knew they were hauling him off to a pauper’s grave after he spent 
the necessary amount of time checked in at the morgue. I bided my time 
by unloading several Utrillos to a millionaire who liked Modern, although 
not too modern, and one Franz Hals to another who still thought the past 
was a better investment, for a smashing price. I went to parties and was as- 
tounded at the number of beautiful women who doted on and phoned and 
invited a man with a blown-glass heart. Once I even achingly regretted the 
sturdier skin-and-bones of poor Joe Brand who never came across anything 
like this in his monk-in-the-cell-don’t-get-off-that-bread-and-water life. 
But the deal had been done and I knew it and until the right time came, 

I would have to be bored in a jail of another kind. 

The right time came. I just happened to be poking around in the gallery 
down in the Village where “Arrangement in Green” w^as still hanging. It 
just happened to catch my eye and I asked about the man who painted it. 



The man who painted it? Name of Joe Brand. I said I’d like to talk to him. 
They didn’t think that was possible right now. He hadn’t been around in a 
long time. He used to camp on the doorstep — • must have gone out of town. 
Any idea where he went? They didn’t have any but now they cared terribly 
because Harry Everson was asking it. The biggest search party you ever saw 
was sent out hunting for Joseph M. Brand, not only because of “Arrange- 
ment in Green” but a couple of others the dealer in the Village had stuck 
in a packing box down in the basement and the wealth of paintings, the 
whole stinking plethora stashed away in every conceivable corner of the 
little empty room with the good north light. There would be more discov- 
ered, later on, naturally. 

Dealer Searching for Missing Genius. 

Oh, the tears they spilled in all the papers! Oh, the spread in Life Maga- 
zine after some brain at Headquarters put two and two together and they 
remembered about the man they dragged up out of the river, bloated and 
purple on June 9! 

Dead and discovered. Gone, therefore great! 

I let them drool for a good six months before I put the first Joe Brand up 
for sale. I sold them all the Picassos they wanted. If they wanted Renoirs, 
it was okay with me. But Brand — I was so crazy about him I wanted him 
all for myself. I put up a shrine in the Galleries, a permanent room for 
Brand. I kept it locked. Every so often, if an art collector got down on his 
knees and begged me and bought enough other stuff. I’d personally open 
the shrine and come out with a single Brand. (One Kohinoor diamond against 
Tiffany velvet.) Don’t breathe so hard. Papa spank! You can look but you 
mustn’t touch! 

I wasn’t in any hurry. I wanted the price to go up. And it could and 
would go up and up and up — because I wasn’t ever going to run out of 
Joe Brands. I could always go and hide myself some place and paint some 

So after six months of torturing the more lecherous collectors, I unlocked 
the shrine and gave a cocktail party. I gave a sensational spiel. I was a selfish 
old soandso. I was a dirty mean skinflint. How Scrooge could I get? Keeping 
all of that beauty, all that emotion, all of that genius, all to myself. I didn’t 
have the right. Now, I hurt so hard in the conscience, I couldn’t live with 
myself anymore. 

“Still Life No. 3,” “Face in the Window,” and “The Harbor” were up 
for sale. What about “Arrangement in Green?” Please, I’ve got a weak 
heart! And no taking home tonight, because tomorrow the entire exhibit 
is being thrown open for the public — high school teachers and lovers 
holding hands and shabby-looking young men in rump-sprung pants and 



thin young women, too pale with too much lipstick on — to devour with 
their eyes, Joe Brand painted for them. 

That part of it was true. 

I looked around the room for the she-devil. I don’t know why I expected 
to see her. She had said she wasn’t going to show any more. I knew she 
planned on collecting her commission, but now obviously wasn’t the time. 

There was too much work to be done. I had a scare thrown into me the 
night of the day that the Brands were opened to the public, with more 
newsprint about it than even the original Harry Everson could have 
dreamed of. I had a heart attack, the first one I, personally, had experienced. 
The doctor said it wasn’t nearly so rocky as the last one, so I had to take his 
word for it. All I know is I felt like Joe Brand must have felt when he went 
down and down and his lungs began to burst although I wasn’t, strictly 
speaking, present at the time. But the doctor said not to worry, my state 
was static as compared to last year, no better but certainly no worse. 

So I was able to get on with the job of doling out Brands. I continued to 
part with them reluctantly and the greater the reluctance the bigger the 
price. I still held onto “Arrangement in Green,” knowing there was the 
woman in Pasadena who would murder her children to get it. I wanted her 
to reach the state where she’d garrote her grandchildren. 

The pictures were going, one by one. It would become necessary for me 
to discover additional Brands. But that wasn’t the only reason I rented a 
loft in the warehouse over on Tenth, so I could add to the glory of Brand, 
posthumously and in secret. 

You see, you can’t stop it. You can’t hold it down. When you’ve got 
something in you, you can’t make believe it isn’t there. You can’t tell it to 
go away and it won’t exist in a vacuum. It’s got to go someplace and it must. 

I was bursting with ideas. Hundreds of them. And they wanted out — on 

Everson was still Brand. 

I was haunted and held and possessed most of all by “Easter Sunday,” 
the kid in the awning-striped shirt. It was already hanging in my mind, 
alive and complete, finished and framed. I had disposed of whatever busi- 
ness I had at hand and had already told my assistant that I was going to 
Virginia for a week, planning to shack up in the loft, when the telegram 
came from the woman in Pasadena. For “Arrangement in Green” she was 
not only willing to strangle her grandchildren, but if she couldn’t come by 
it honestly, she’d cut my throat in the bargain. 

I flew to the Coast. 

When I got back, the Museum of Modern Art wanted a loan of the whole 
collection. Joe Brand would have killed me if I turned that down, so there 



were more days lost away from the easel waiting for me in the loft on Tenth. 

And all this wasted time, it kept building in me and building. I was getting 
sick of publicity stunts and phoney baloney and art gallery gobbledygook 
like Representational, Non-objective or Blue Period or Green Period or 
Pink Period. I was sick of dishing out double talk like Form, Emotion, De- 
sign; like “This is something you don’t just look at once, this is something 
you’ll live with for the rest of your life!” 

I didn’t want to live with it the rest of my life. I was getting awfully edgy. 
I wasn’t even polite the other day when Grafton, my assistant, asked me if 
I’d look at some work done by his wife’s cousin’s niece, a girl they felt had 
great promise. The girl had nothing and I said so. I was furious. She had 
nothing but because she iiad the right connections she could get an ap- 
praisal from Harry Everson. Joe Brand had sweated his heart out and he had 
to go dive in the drink before Harry Everson would even look at him. 

Those days I was taking the nitro like popcorn. And I thought if I didn’t 
get to my secret studio and shut myself up with my work. I’d die. 

I got to the studio. I had to. What set it off is yesterday morning some 
stubble-faced stumblebum with holes in his elbows came to the galleries 
and insulted my secretary and began yelling at the top of his lungs so every- 
body could hear him that he was the real foe Brand, that wasn’t Joe Brand 
they buried and they never proved it and he could and he was going to sue 
the world! 

He was raising such Hell that I had to come out of my office and have a 
look at him. At first, it struck me funny that he didn’t look anything like 
me. Like I looked, I mean. He had some ratty-looking unframed canvases 
under his arm. 

I told him to come in my office and bring his paintings with him. For a 
moment there, I had this curious, queasy tremor. Maybe he was Joe Brand. 
Maybe the transmigration didn’t stop with from Brand to Everson — 
maybe the lady devil had worked out a triple play and this was Tinkers to 
Evers to Chance. 

Well, I knew this was ridiculous and I shook it off. I looked at his canvases. 
The sad part of it was, they weren’t bad. He did have talent. But they 
weren’t Joe Brands. 

“Why don’t you stand on your own.?^” I told him. “You can paint. But 
you’re not Joe Brand.” 

“How do you know?” he said. His face was gray and his mouth hung slack 
but misery burned bright in his eyes, misery and longing and hope. He 
looked me straight in the face with everything he had ever been and all 
that he wanted to be. 

I took one of his paintings. A street corner at night. A blowzy tart under 



the street lamp. In the background, two young soldiers against a building, 
looking. I propped the picture up on my desk, then I went and stood next 
to him and grabbed him by the arm. 

“I know because I know Brand. And he wouldn’t have painted it like 
that. What you’ve done is good but it’s cheap. You squeezed a lot of color 
on your palette and it came out black. It’s too black. You’ve hit so hard you 
missed the point. Brand wouldn’t have painted that woman like that. He 
wouldn’t have put those kids in the background. He would have let the 
light come toward her like this .” I picked up a pencil and started to 
sketch. “He would have let it come softly, with love, so it would find some 
attitude, some expression in her face, or the way her hand clasps her purse 
to show some real humanity, the young girl inside of the blowzy 
tramp. She’s waiting for some guy to pick her up so she can eat, but she’s 
waiting for something else, maybe. . • . And you’d do it like this . . . 
and this . . in the composition. • . 

I had been sketching as I talked, crouched over the desk. I could feel him 
breathing on my neck, watching. 

“I don’t see any difference,” he said. “So you took out the two soldiers. 
You’re not an artist . . how the Hell would you know?” 

I crumpled up the sketch and threw it on the floor. I took his paintings 
and heaved them at him. 

“Get out of here,” I said. 

“You’re a liar,” he said. “And a forger. You forged my name to some fuzzy 
stinking sentimental semi-abstracts. And Fm not getting out.” 

I lunged to push him out the door, the pain radiating like lightning from 
the middle of my chest, down my arms and through to my back, when the 
cop came and took him away. 

Throw the bum out, he’s breaking my heart! What had I proved? The 
sketch had been lousy. It had gone all wrong. I shouldn’t even have tried it. 
I never sketched anything. I always worked directly with the paint. I 
couldn’t even show that fake how good Joe Brand really was. 

Was I really good? 

I used to know. Even now, with all the critics, did I really know? Critics, 
even good ones, can get carried away. They’ve got tear ducts too, like any- 
body else. You open their veins, they bleed too. I opened their veins and 
made them bleed over a starving suicide-artist. Harry Everson made Joe 

He did like Hell! I gulped some nitro and got out of the galleries. I took 
a cab to Tenth Avenue and got in front of that easel up in the loft. 

“Easter Sunday.” The beauty in the squalor. The glorious kid in the hand- 
me-down shirt. The thing that is born again and again. 



I painted all day and all night. I couldn’t stop. I painted blind, crazy, and 
I knew that it was wonderful. 

I finished it this morning and collapsed. Dead, tired sleep. What woke me 
up was a piece of a dream. It wasn’t a whole dream. Nothing really hap- 
pened. I just saw the woman demon walk briskly down an empty street. 

“Easter Sunday I” I got up and looked at it. In the full light of day. 

It wasn’t wonderful. It was terrible. It was nothing. It wasn’t Joe Brand. 
It was the work of Harry Everson — an amateurl Joe BrancT s talent went 
down with Joe Brand, 

So now I’ll never know. Was I good? Was I really good? I’ve been staring 
at that mess on the easel for a long, long time. I’ve been thinking of what 
one dissenting critic said about me. He said you couldn’t tell about me yet. 
A picture has to hang a long time in the gallery of the gods. It takes the 
quiet, the perspective and the clarity you can only get with Time. 

I had a big jolt about half an hour ago. That’s all right. I’m going to walk 
over to the subway and go downtown and all the way to the end of the line 
and at eight o’clock when I’m supposed to take them, I won’t. I’m leaving 
my little gold pillbox right here on the easel. I’m going to try some empathy 
into time — Real Time. The only way to know is to wait it out. 

The Newest from the Best! 

We’re especially proud of our March issue (on the stands in early 
February) because it features two of the most gifted writers in — or 
indeed out of — the field of science-fantasy : Alfred Bester and Ray 
Bradbury. The newest story from Bradbury, who has won wider 
general recognition than any other recent imaginative writer, is 
called All Summer in a Day — a poignant episode among the children 
of the first colonists on (surprise from old Mars-Hand Bradbury) 
Venus. Bester, who last year enthralled science fiction readers with 
THE DEMOLISHED MAN and captuTed the general audience with his 
bitter TV satire “who he?**, gives us a long novelet curiously titled 
3y271y009 — a novelet rich in ideas as unexpected and provocative 
as its title and one which, while telling a thrilling story, goes to the 
very core of the meaning of science fiction itself. 

This issue will also include short novelets by Roger Dee and 
Anthony Boucher; another of Manly Wade Wellman’s ever-welcome 
tales of John the ballad-singer; the first F&SF story by one of our 
favorite living writers, Shirley Jackson; and F&SF’s detailed annual 
survey of the best books of the preceding year. 

No reader of science fiction or fact needs any notes on the identity of the 
literally and figuratively prodigious Norbert Wiener; but you are probably 
less familiar with the name of W Norbert. This by-line Dr. Wiener has 
adopted for **the stories I publish for the pure fun of itf* as distinguished 
from his work as an objectively observant scientist. This story., which first 
appeared most unexpectedly in MIT's Tech Engineering News and was 
kindly called to our attention by Groff Conklin, marks *'W. Norbert' s'* 
first appearance in a science-fantasy magazine — the first, we trust, of many, 
since he writes with grace and charm, tells a deceptively simple tale of the 
interaction of prayer and scientific research, and concludes with a most 
pointed moral. Wiener, it is obvious, adopts his pseudonym not only for his 
own pure fun, but for the delight of all of us. (note: the casual reader may 
think that the initial W. stands for Wiener; but the devotee of Sherlock 
Holmes will discover in the story one unmistakable clue to indicate that it 
clearly stands for W atson I) 

Tfhe <Miracle of the "^room Closet 


Everybody has his own Mexico. For some it is seafishing in Acapulco with 
the usual photograph of the fisherman and the fish. I believe the fish take as 
much pride in the photographs as the fishermen, only under the ocean 
things are turned upside down, and the pride of the fish is in the weight and 
size of the American who appears beside him. Others sit on the lawns at 
Cuernavaca and bask in the sunshine. I suppose that on weekdays they are 
prominent leather manufacturers from Mexico City or famous doctors; 
but I have merely seen them in their basking costumes with their wives 
and children up from the City in play suits of Jim Tillet’s black patterns. 
I am told that there are even a few people in Mexico who go up Popo, and 
a slightly smaller number who come down again. However, I do not wish 
to assert what I have not observed with my own eyes. 

For me Mexico means none of these. Instead, it means a severely formal 
and efficient building, with plumbing painted in three different colors, and 

Copyright, by Tech Engineering News (MIT) 




the universal odor of the experimental laboratory. It means working with 
a friend of mine who is a physiologist, and who will not be named in the 
sequel for reasons that will appear obvious. It means a highly energetic 
and competent group of young men of various nationalities, who are not 
averse to playing occasional tricks on one another, and who pursue their 
several careers as physiologists, chemists, and other varieties of scientists. 
There is also Sebastian. 

Sebastian is the janitor. I do not mean to imply in the least that he is an 
ordinary janitor. In fact, he is the janitor to end all janitors. When I first 
met him, he was possessed of a flowery conversational style, and two equally 
flowery moustachios. The moustachios, alas, have passed into history, al- 
though I suspect them of having been stolen by one of the younger chem- 
ists. The style is still there. 

When I first met him, Sebastian was only able to be flowery in one 
language. As a matter of fact, the general question asked in the laboratory 
when a new article is to be turned over to the press is, “Is this the way that 
Sebastian would have said it?” Since then, with the ebb and flow of foreign 
and largely North American scientists, English has become the second 
language of the laboratory, and Sebastian can manage to be quite as dignified 
in it as he can be in Spanish. He holds very high opinions as to the responsi- 
bility and the conduct of “international scientists” and speaks reverently 
of them. 

Sebastian is thus an internationalist, but he is not himself an unnational 
being. He is most definitely a Mexican, and a very devout one at that. 
There is a Shrine in the broom closet, not unlike the portable affairs that 
Mexican chauffeurs carry around with them on the front window; and I 
need not tell you that the Saint to whom he prays is his namesake. I don’t 
mean that there is not a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe somewhere in 
the Shrine — that would be too much to expect of a patriotic Mexican — 
but the main figure is that of a Roman soldier pierced through and through 
with arrows and looking very uncomfortable under the circumstances. 

I must now report to you a sad event which happened some few years ago, 
and almost caused the disruption of our flourishing little institution. It all 
goes back to a visit the Boss paid to the National Pawn Shop. Why the Boss 
should visit the National Pawn Shop is more than I can understand, but I 
believe that it was under the pressure of some of his wife’s American friends, 
who had heard there were to be found there rather remarkable opportuni- 
ties for the purchase of Colonial jewelry. However, one of the lots to be 
auctioned off seemed to consist of a miscellaneous collection of hardware, 
and to be so little in demand that it was going to be knocked down at a 
ridiculously low price. There is always a need for odd bits of metal around a 



laboratory, for clamping the different parts of an apparatus together; and 
as about fifteen pieces of miscellaneous junk were to be knocked down for 
half a peso, the Boss couldn’t resist the need of supporting the financial 
interests of his laboratory. 

Most of the stuff was no use to anyone — it consisted of a few things that 
looked like picture frames, some miscellaneous brass work and a few bits of 
junk jewelry — but there were some iron rods which caught my friend’s 
attention as just what he needed for the assembly of his new oscillograph. 
The oscillograph is located in the back of the room just opposite the broom 
closet I have mentioned, where the janitor keeps his washrags and brooms, 
and performs his private devotions. 

It is the part of the ideal scientist to keep a magnificent impartiality in 
his decisions; but although this is so, in a long career extending over 40 years 
and three continents, I have never met the ideal scientist. The very least 
he wants is to get pubUshable results, and what he usually wants is to show 
that Professor So-and'So of the University of Patagonia has made a fool of 
himself in his last paper. Much as I admire my esteemed Mexican colleague, 
I cannot acquit him of a full measure of human frailty in such matters. He 
is quite as capable of chortling as the next man, and his long and successful 
scientific career has given him many occasions to chortle. 

In the period in which this tale is laid. Professor Halbwitz, formerly of 
the University of Spiesburg, and now a refugee at the University of Pata- 
gonia, had presented a paper concerning nervous conduction which con- 
tained some features highly obnoxious to my friend. The dispute began with 
the fact that the Patagonian scientist used a certain German make of am- 
plifier, while the Mexican scientist swore by an American amplifier which a 
friend of his had constructed. At any rate, there was a marked discrepancy 
between the results of the two men. For a while, my friend put it down not 
only to the other fellow’s bad instrumentation, but in particular to the 
electrodes he was using. I may say bad electrodes or polarized electrodes are 
the continual excuse of the electrophysiolqgists. 

Before long the whole laboratory knew that the combat between their 
director and Herr Professor Halbwitz was a grim battle to the death. The 
less respectful youngsters had heavy bets on the outcome, weighted de- 
cisively, I may say, by the fact that their boss had almost always come across 
in the pinches. On the other hand, as becomes a man of dignity and sub- 
stance, the janitor, our Sebastian, was unable to relieve his emotions in 
such a trivial and undignified way. The Boss over whom he watched, the 
Boss who was a national asset of Mexico, the Boss to whose office he had 
often brought the bootblack and the barber — much, I may say, to the 
Boss’s embarrassment — not only could not be wrong, but by some sort 



of contradiction, he needed the full support of Heaven in not being wrong. 
Far be it from me to expatiate on the fluency of the prayers which went up 
to Saint Sebastian. Neither the fluency of Sebastian’s Spanish nor my own 
linguistic abilities permit me to do justice to the subject. At any rate, the 
first results of this devotion were most gratifying. The Mexican electrodes 
seemed to work perfectly, and the American amplifiers were all that a com- 
mittee of Edisons could have wished. The paper proceeded flowingly; it 
seemed as if H. Halbwitz was doomed to be swallowed into the outer dark- 
ness in which he belonged. 

Convincing as the results of our laboratory were, they appeared to have 
no effect whatever on the stream of publications arising in Patagonia. In 
one article after another, Herr Professor Halbwitz continued to maintain 
his indefensible thesis, and the controversy went on for a period of months. 
By this time somebody in the Morganbilt Institute in New York began to 
be intrigued by the blank opposition between the results of the two scien- 
tists. He was an old friend of the Boss, and we had full confidence that the 
results of our laboratory would be completely confirmed. We got a most 
apologetic letter from the Morganbilt Institute, in which our friend. Dr. 
Schlemihl, confessed himself unable to duplicate our results. He supposed 
that there had been some misunderstanding on his part about our setup, 
but as far as his work went, it seemed to be distinctly on Halbwitz’s side, 
A long letter from our laboratory did not improve the situation. It appeared 
that Schlemihl’s understanding of what we had done had been perfectly 
correct. It was really a nasty situation, because the controversy came to 
take on a rather personal tinge, and there wasn’t anything we could do 
about it. An article appeared in an Argentine newspaper commenting on 
the corruption of Mexico by North American contacts, and declaring a 
national mission of Argentina to be at the lead in all branches of science and 
intellectual effort. This was followed by a rather chauvinistic article in the 
Journal of the American Medical Associationy casting doubts on all Latin- 
American work. 

We still kept getting the same results. The Boss began to look more and 
more strained. I don’t know how we could have kept from an explosion if 
just about this time a totally new and unexpected piece of work of his in 
an entirely different field had not come off, and saved the reputation of the 
laboratory. Still it was a close thing; and to this day the name of Halbwitz 
is not to be mentioned in the laboratory without a certain feeling of hu- 

- It was only the other day that we got our first clue as to where the dif- 
ficulty really lay. The Boss was looking a little more carefully over the col- 
lection of junk that he had bought before throwing it out as utterly useless. 



In the bottom of the box, between two flat pieces of metal, there had sifted 
down a little slip of parchment, indicating that the box had been the prop- 
erty of an old Mexican priest who had excavated some of the material in 
the neighborhood of one of the early churches. This church was devoted to 
Saint Sebastian, and the priest offered as a theory, perhaps not too well sub- 
stantiated but perfectly probable, that the pieces of metal he had dug up 
were relics; in ^ct, probably some of the original arrows of Saint Sebastian. 

I don’t know just the process by which the engines of the death of Saint 
Sebastian acquired special miraculous powers, but we have the True Cross 
as a prototype, and relics are of the most diverse character. The miracle 
of Joshua, when he made the sun stand still, was a really good-sized one; 
but within the frame of science there are minor miracles as well. Now, to 
upset scientific experiment at all requires a very small miracle indeed, and 
with a devout and faithful servant praying to Saint Sebastian in the direct 
presence of his arrows, what can one expect? After all, as we understand it, 
the Saint was a Roman soldier, and the very special needs of the modern 
scientist must be well beyond him. The needs of an eloquent and faithful 
though simple soul are matters much more suited to his comprehension. 

We have no complete evidence that this is what happened. However, 
since then I have noticed on the part of the Boss a distinct disinclination to 
use any material emanating from a quasi-clerical source. I don’t think he is 
any more religious than he was before, but he is very much annoyed, and 
last year when there was a question of hiring a fellow by the name of Sebas- 
tian as laboratory boy, the youngster lost the job. And I am very sure I 
know why. 

At any rate, the moral of this little tale, if there is any moral, is that saint 
and scientist should each stick to his own business. Meanwhile, the janitor 
Sebastian flourishes, and I believe that in his self-satisfaction he is beginning 
to grow his moustachios again. 


If you enjoy The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fic- 
tion, you will like some of the other Mercury Publications: 

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine 
Mercury Mystery Books 
Bestseller Mystery Books 
Jonathan Press Mystery Books 

'Daniel F. Galouye is on the copy desk of the New Orleans States (sister 
newspaper of the nationally more celebrated Times-Picayune); and like 
so many science fiction writers^ he somehow manages to produce in part- 
time more fiction than most professionals could create in full-time. Since 
his debut less than two years ago^ he s sold seventeen stories^ mostly novelets 
and short novels. His F(iTSF debut shows that he s developed into a fine 
craftsman of storytelling. Here he takes the ever-fascinating theme of the 
telepathic mutant^ explores more terrifyingly than ever before the implica- 
tions of involuntary telepathy y and casts his tale in the form of a breath- 
takingy hard-punchingy relentlessly compelling suspense story that reminds 
us of the best Black Mask thrillers of such pulp masters as Cornell Woolrich. 



Half tripping on the curb, Lois stumbled forward, regained her balance 
and plunged on into the shadows of the next deserted block. 

Away from the area of yellowish illumination that lay like a fog over the 
corner, she slowed her pace and turned to cast a desperate glance behind her. 

Her heart was pounding. Her breathing was shallow, rapid. Her hands 
were clenched into small, tight fists that trembled as she held them close to 
her sides. Alert, frantic, she listened with more than her ears; tried to pierce 
the darkness with more than her eyes. 

(. babe like that . . alone this neighborhood . . .) 

It was his I-stream! There was no one else around. 

As she turned to flee again, she caught the faint sounds of his quick but 
cautious stalking footfalls — the real sounds, not reflected impressions from 
his stream of conscious perception. 

But she forced herself not to run couldn’t excite him into prema- 
ture action. She turned the next corner. Out of his line of sight now, she 
raced forward, springing on the soles of her shoes so the high wooden heels 
would not betray her. 

(. . . like classy stuff . .) She caught the lustful undertones that came 
with the impression. (. . really built .) 

The hateful thoughts grated against raw, exposed receptors of her brain 



like sandpaper on a bared nerve fiber. Her face twisted in pain, but she re- 
fused to throat the scream of agony. 

Terrified, she glanced back. Under the corner light he was motionless, 
staring intently ahead — a huge, muscular figure, the sinews of his stout 
forearms and biceps bulging as he stood with his fists on his hips, listening. 
He seemed to realize suddenly that she was running and he lunged after her. 

(. . . goodl . . alley ahead — next bloc\ . .) The piecemeal impres- 

sions from his Tstream knifed into her brain like torturing bolts. She 
screamed — low, ineffectually. (. . brass bnucl^s .) 

A background of indefinable, obscene picture-images came through, ac- 
companied by unspoken words she had not heard before. 

Then, (. . . going to be sic\ . . . cant he drive this damned cab any 
faster? . . . LIGHTS, CAR AHEAD! . .) It was a multiple Tstream 

now. (. . . Hour and a half more . . . damned hac\ bac\ to the garage . . • 
nigMs sleep . , DAMNED BUT SHE CAN RUN . sic\ . .) 

She reached the corner just as a cab, with a single passenger, turned and 
drove past. 

She stopped, started to shout out to the driver. But it was too late. 

The excruciating threads of thought continued to beat into her brain like 
splinters of agony. 

The cab’s lights flashed on her stalker. He was walking now. 

(. . gotta be careful . . .) It was his singular thoughts again. (. . . alley 

only a halfbloc\ . . . not a police car . .) 

She crossed the street and turned the corner in a frantic burst of speed. 
As the cab passed him, she heard his hard heels pound the pavement in 

Lights ahead! Red and orange neon that spelled beer and billiards and 
splotched the sidewalk with patches of color that seeiried to hold back some 
of the gloom and menace of the night. 

The eager pursuer was close now. But a flood of torment in the form of 
new thought impressions was beating at her tender receptors. (. . nothing 

but a small pair — trying to bluff . . , goddam drin\ aint got enough whisl^y 
to . IF SHE GOES IN TLL WAIT RIGHT . . . no'good warped cue 
AND . .) 

Sobbing, she tried to shut out the thoughts. If only there were lids over 
the receptors that she could close, as she closed her eyelids! but it was no 

The man inched forward, staying close to the buildings, half-hidden in 
their shadows. 

Why had she come into this deserted section? Why had she decided to 



come to the city at all? She had been warned. She had been told what it 
would be like if she ever went close to — people . . a lot of people. She 

had shuddered at the thought of needles of pain that she could not keep out 
of her brain — only thought impulses, but sensations which wracked her as 
vehemently as though they were hateful whiplashes. Such impulses would 
always produce the excruciations unless she could learn to shield herself 
from them. 

She was in the deserted section because she had planned to come here 
after getting off the train; because she had rationalized that only here — 
only in the dismal, uninhabited surroundings — would she be safe from the 
thought range of others until morning came and she could dash for the 

Determinedly, she concentrated. The thought lashes seemed to lose some 
of their sting. For a while, until her resistance was swept aside by mental 
exhaustion, the assaulting Fstreams would be deprived of some of their 
razor edges. 

Hesitatingly, she stepped through the open doorway into the barroom. 

Immediately, the vocal blatancy decrescendoed and silence moved over 
the room in a wave from the bar on her left to the farthest billiard table. 

But the hush was only a background for the soundless impressions of 
obscenity and sensuous abstractions that were like tongues of fire licking at 
the depths of her mind. Some of the thoughts were duplicated in the half- 
heard whispers that came from salaciously smiling lips. 

(. . whatta shapel She's put up likp . .) That one from the bartender. 
She could tell. There wai a certain synchronization between the thought- 
words and the motions of his eyes, his changing expression. 

(. . . most lil^ to hole up in a hotel with . . . SHE'LL COME OUT 
baby! what a doll! SHE JUST RAN IN TO BE SAFE . 
wonder how . .) 

Despairingly, she stood inside the doorway. The impulses were violent! 
Relentless! Now, however, she was able to hold off some of their sting. But 
what would happen when she tired of the intense concentration that was 
her only resistance? 

She had to get away! She had to find solitude! Frantically, she looked out 
the door. The man outside was dimly visible in the shadows across the 
street . . . waiting. 

“Come here, baby.” It was a vocal sound this time. 

A hand caught her roughly — its touch conveying, nevertheless, a pre- 
tense at tenderness — and pulled her toward the bar. “Whatcha drinkin’? 
rii buy yuh anything.” 



This new threat was huge too, his face red, his eyes dull, his breath redo- 
lent of alcoholic fumes. And, as though his laying claim had settled an issue, 
he stared arrogantly at the others around him. Normal sounds returned to 
the barroom. 

But the assaulting I-streams continued to thrash at her consciousness. 

The shirt-sleeved man smiled clumsily into her face. “Give her a double 
bourbon, Mack. . Say,” he dropped a callous hand on her shoulder, 
“you ain’t looking for a place to bunk, huh.?^” 

“N — no,” she stammered. 

Outside, her stalker crossed the street, heading for the shadows along the 
near sidewalk. Her frantic eyes followed his movement through the open 

“That is — yes,” she amended. . . Maybe.” 

The drunken man put an arm around her and pulled her closer. 

Her eyes cast wildly about and she stifled a scream. But the nearness of 
the brute was a horror that was dwarfed by the Tstreams which beat furi- 
ously at her brain, paralyzing normal response. 

He laughed insipidly, released her and tossed a jigger of whisky into his 

In the mirror, Lois looked in stark disbelief at the disarranged blonde hair 
that lay against the shoulders of her black coat in clumps and knots; the 
terrified expression in her eyes; the lines of her mouth, drawn with appre- 
hension — pain. 

The man gagged on the drink, spat in the bar gutter and wiped his lips 
against a dirty shirt sleeve, his whiskers making a coarse, grating sound. 
“Cancel the drink, Mack.” 

He took her roughly by the arm — principally to hold on to her for sup- 
port, she imagined — and staggered out of the bar. 

(. . luc\y sot . . .) The relentless I-streams continued to thrash her 
conscious. (. MAYBE I OUGHT TO FOLLOW A WHILE . slip 
in extra ace now^ or wait — get some coffee first — sober up some . .) 

“I got a place a couple of blocks up this way, honey,” he said, slipping an 
arm around her waist and starting up the sidewalk. “There’s a coffee shop 
along the way. . Say, you’re pretty young, ain’t-cha?” 

The composite I-streams from the barroom faded into a restless buzzing 
as they reached the corner. Mentally exhausted, she decreased her level of 
protective concentration. But she had forgotten about the man in the 
shadow of the building and the drunk with her. 

(. . . hardly more than a l^d^ but what the hell . . .) 

The thread of thought exploded like a fire-bomb in her brain. She half- 
sobbed, half-screamed. 



‘‘Something wrong, baby?” He squeezed her waist tighter. 

(. . . FOLLOW ABLOCKORSO — MAYBE HELL . . .) The frag- 
ment of the burly stalker’s thoughts from half a block behind her was a 
hornet’s sting, but she quickly reestablished her determination to resist. 

“There’s a man following me,” she complained. 

Cursing, her escort spun around, pulled a knife from his pocket and lum- 
bered after the other, who turned and ran. 

Lois fled in the opposite direction, relief flowing over her like a cooling 
draught as she escaped the thought ranges of her pursuer, the infuriated 
drunk, the crowd in the barroom. 

But she sobbed as she ran. . She had to go back — back to the house 
far out in the country which was the only setting of all the memories she 

But she couldtit quit now! She had come so far! Her flight had been like 
racing across a scorching desert, having forgotten how far she had come from 
the oasis and not knowing but what the forest with its cooling stream was 
only on the other side of the next dune. 

Should she turn now and race back over the hundreds of torturous miles 
she had come — back to the sanctuary of her isolated home where she would 
be lonesomely but painlessly alone? Or should she continue on with the 
meager hope that she would find help and understanding at the Foundation? 

If only morning would come! Then she could make her final dash over the 
last few blocks. She would blurt out her story and they might give her an 
injection that would force sleep and bring release from the indescribable 
thought agonies which she couldn’t endure. 

Dawn stirred a chilling breeze and she wrapped her coat tightly about her, 
rising to stand shivering on the loading platform at the side of the silent 

Pale light silhouetted the nearby skyline of the city’s central section. A 
horn sounded dismally from the speedway only two blocks off. Somewhere 
in the distance a truck rattled harshly as it bounced over a grade crossing. 

Lois closed her eyes and shuddered. These were the sounds of an awaken- 
ing metropolis — grim omens that augured the barbarous tortures of the 
day. The still shadowy city lay like a sleeping monster — sleeping, but even 
in its lethargy, malevolently plotting the gamut of torment that it would 
hurl at her. 

But she jnust face the anguish with the hope that she could survive long 
enough to reach the Foundation — an island in a hurricane-whipped sea. 
.There they had studied other manifestations of the mind — effects similar 
to the ones she experienced. Only there could she possibly find help. 



Abruptly she realized she had acted unwisely in pushing farther into the 
sanctuary of the deserted, thought-less section of the city during the night. 
She should have defiantly faced the minor tortures in order to stay close to 
her destination, where it would have required only a brief spurt to reach the 
Foundation as soon as it opened. 

With hesitating steps, she walked numbly down the center of the street 
toward the speedway. Even now her mind was vibrant with the ominous 
whisperings of a thousand thoughts in the stirring city — strident but sound- 
less I-stream utterings that were still below the threshold of intelligibility. 

She clutched her coat lapels with one hand and thrust the other into her 
pocket; felt the small square of cardboard. Withdrawing it, she read the 
name — Morton Nelson — and the address. 

Would she find him at the Foundation? She remembered his eagerness on 
learning aboard the train that she was going to the place where he worked ; 
how he had offered help. But she had become reticent. Otherwise, she would 
have had to say, “I hear voices in my head.” People don’t ordinarily utter 
such phrases to a person they’ve just met . . . not even if that person is an 
amiable, garrulous ex-rancher- turned-psychologist from Texas. 

The sun was rising when she turned on the sidewalk of the speedway 
toward the city. 

(. . goddam early job . . .) The first of the day’s thought-stream im- 
pressions jabbed at her mind unexpectedly and she winced as an automobile 
sped by. 

(.../// average 60 in Kington by noon . .) A car raced past in 

the other direction. 

(. . . Til quit; thais what Til do ^ . ram it down his throat . . . ball 
game if I get off early enough . ought to brea\ his damned nec\ . .) 

Grimacing, she clenched her fists in her pockets and shuddered as the 
flow of cars passed. The stabbing thought-pains weren’t yet unbearable. But 
then, the day had only started. 

Should she give it up, she wondered, and find a secluded spot to await the 
night so she could take the train back to her country home? She dismissed 
the suggestion with a revulsive tremor as she considered the neurotic 
thought-congestion of the station’s waiting room and ticket office — the 
bedlam of impressions that had sent her plunging into the streets on her 

(. . . not badl . . wonder what she's . I can take the day off . . .) 

Brakes howled and a car pulled to the curb next to her. “Hop in, sister,” 
an effusively smiling middle-aged man called out the window. “I’ll give you 
a lift in.” 

(. . good look^y too . . . Joe'll have a vacant cabin . . .) 



Lois looked the other way, walked faster. She received the mental im- ' 
pressions of disappointment, indignation, then resignation. (. . . Ohy well 
. . . lot of wor\ to do anyway . .) 

The car lurched off. She caught the unspoken expression of vilification, 

The I-streams were beginning to grate pitilessly on her conscious now. 
She must begin resisting them earnestly. But the realization came with a 
sense of desperation. Where she had hoped that she would be able to ward 
them off for a longer period today, she was finding that their effects were 
straining toward an unbearable intensity almost immediately. Was it be- 
cause she had almost exhausted her capacity to resist them yesterday ? 

With determined concentration, she quelled the harsh impressions until 
they were but a whisper. But it was only a meager security that she felt — 
for trying to shield her mind against the I-streams was like trying to concen- 
trate on a difficult, boring problem — the thread of consciousness invariably 
wandered from the objective. 

A cab drove by slowly and she hailed it. 

“Do you have the time?” she asked after she had gotten in. 


She sighed, relieved. The Foundation would be open by now. 

(. . • wonder what the pitch is? . . . lool^s innocent . . . carit never tell 
. • . Sadie's place . . .) 

She tried to close her mind to the strong lecherous Impulses which she 
knew on the basis of their immediacy were originating from the cab driver. 
But even with the most intense mental resistance, she was unable to ignore 
them. The range was too close, the thoughts too powerful in their harsh 

Each thread of his I-stream was a painful barb that thrust up from the 
background of a thousand babbling thought-voices — hateful expressions, 
oaths, lewd exclamations, neurotic ravings. . 

It was a maddening abstract-imbroglio that swirled around her, stabbing 
inward from all directions like a thousand lances — all composing an 
invisible aura of vindictiveness, detestation, aggravation, discontent, 

And where there wasn’t the almost universal vituperation and profanity, 
there was the general undertone of unbearable anxiety as scores all around 
her shared their worries with her — forced their harassing mental plagues 
on her. It was like being compelled to consider a hundred personal problems 
simultaneously — none of which she could be sure, in her distress, was not 
her own. 

And each silent thought-word that fought the thousands of others for 


7 ^ 

precedence was, in itself, an individual spear of pain. Would she never find 
release — be able to shield them out? Could the Foundation help her learn 
how, so that she might live with people, not have to run away from them 
like a frightened animal? After all, wasn’t she like other humans . • . 
physically, at least? 

The cab swerved sharply onto a main street and entered a congested river 
of traffic. 

Lois closed her eyes in desperation. The Stygian chorus had already 
reached its climax; was mounting to an inevitable anti-climactic superfury. 
God! Would the incessant barrage of nerve- twisting anguish never stop? 

Frantically, she clutched her face with trembling hands. 

(. . . crazy fool . get the hell outta the way . . . stupid^ damned cop 
YU be late • haverit made a green light this morning . . • lunatic 
woman driver . .) 

Horns blared endlessly. Shrill whistles grated against her nerves to add to 
the maddening admixture of normal and supernormal sensations. She sobbed 

(. . dame's off her nut . . .) “Something wrong, lady?” the driver 
asked misgivingly. (. . either hopped up or . maybe dangerous . . .) 

“I’ll be all right,” she stammered. “Just a — a headache.” 

“Oh.” (. headache — liJ^ helU . . looney-house case . . .) 

She was aware the cab had stopped and the stream of traffic hadn’t moved 
forward for over a minute. 

“Where are we?” She clenched her hands as though the physical exertion 
would produce the extra measure of mental application necessary to fight 
back the I-streams. 

“Fourth and Allington.” 

Only five more blocks! She knew — she had studied the map so that she 
would have an almost instinctive knowledge of the city in case she should be 
too distraught to think clearly. 

“Why can’t we go ahead?” She sat on the edge of the seat. 

“Jam up there. Looks like a couple of them bumped fenders.” 

(. . . DON'T LIKE THE WAY SHE'S ACTING . . . stupid cop 
. . . BEAUTIFUL BUT NUTTY ... Aw, go to hell! . . . SHE 

It was an irresistible flood now, bringing unbearable pain. 

(. . be late . . the hell with him . . MAYBE SHE'S DRUNK 
• . . somebody ought to bnoc\his damned teeth . . . BUT I DON'T SMELL 

All interspersed with a thousand simultaneous expressions of obscenity! 



The pulverizing phrases, biting words seared through her brain again and 
again, like myriad excruciating electrical shocks. There was no holding 
them back! No resisting their vehement effects! 

Lois screamed. She leaped from the cab and lunged onto the sidewalk, 
raced in the direction of the Foundation. 

But there were hundreds all around her — pushing, barring her progress, 
staring at her, assaulting her mind with their punishing thoughts. 

I’ve got to hurry, she thought — got to get to the ban\ to mal^ that ch€c\ 
good. No! That wasn’t her thought! It was someone else’s! She pushed a 
slowly moving woman out of her way. 

(. . . stupid blonde . . . run this way, baby . . she could fall, and I 
could pic\ her up and Fd hold her and . bounce, bounce — nice, nice . .) 

Her ankle twisted under her, but she stayed on her feet and raced on. 
She couldnt stop! She had to . . catch the downtown express; there was that 
deal waiting. No! She screamed. She didn’t want to go downtown! It was 
someone else — not her. She was — 

. . . 'Roger Van Ness,' Fll say, 'that's who I am' ; and when I enter Kaston's 
office I'll say . . . 

But she couldn’t be Roger Van Ness! And she wasn’t going to any office! 

Who was she.^ 

. . . Arthur . Betty . . Rose John , Lottie , , A hun- 

dred names lunged up like braille on a smooth surface, as though coming 
involuntarily from the subconsciouses of the I-streams. 

But she wasn’t any of those! She was . . Lois! That was it! Lois Farley 

. . . And she was going to — 

... the office 

. . . home after a tough night' s wor\ . . 

... to get a quic\ cup of coffee before checking in . 

. . out on a damned good, stiff drun\ , , , 

She screamed and staggered on. She didn’t know where she was going! 
There was only the compelling urgency that forced her to race forward. 
She had to find some place where she could think independently! 

Broad marble steps paralleled the sidewalk on her right. At the top of the 
steps were two arched doorways flanking a third, larger arched entrance. 
Stretching skyward above the dark- brick edifice were two cupolas and a 

She lunged up the steps and raced in. 

As though she had stepped through a sound-deadening curtain, she was 
out of the fentastic though t-world immediately. There was a quiet solem- 
nity about this new place that seemed to force back most of the unbearable 



magnitude of thought assaults. Dazed, she surveyed her new surroundings, 
staggering farther 'into the interior. The Tstream rumblings died down as 
she withdrew farther from the congested sidewalk. 

She was in an almost deserted church. Long rows of dark-stained, dimly- 
lighted pews stretched on either side of her toward the altar. 

(. Mary^ full of grace .) 

She stiffened. The church wasn’t empty! 

(. . Gody please help me and grant one candle in memory of Fred^ 
dear Fred . most Sacred Heart of Jesus . .) 

There was a handful of persons — kneeling in the pews, or at the altar rail, 
or before the candle racks. 

But there was no unbearable sting to the impressions from their I-streams! 
Gone was the vehemence, the hate, the anxiety that had characterized the 
secular thought which had almost completely crushed her on the outside. 
There was a peculiar timbre of dolor, of gentleness that typified these new 

Lois sidled into a pew halfway to the altar and sat in detached silence. 

(. . . Gody forgive me . .) This impression from close by. She recog- 
nized its origin as the blonde girl kneeling immediately in front of her. The 
girl — wearing a black dress much like her own — nodded her head to ac- 
centuate poignant thought-words in her desperate reflections. (. . didnt 

mean to Ifll him . but baby coming and . .) 

Embarrassed as though she were intentionally, surreptitiously listening in 
on another’s bitter distress, Lois tried to turn her attention forcibly away 
from the contrite stream of consciousness. 

Abruptly, she realized she was no longer receiving impressions from per- 
sons within the church. The meek thoughts, of low intensity, could be 
shielded out! It was as though they lacked the strength to insist upon being 

But still the sinister rumblings from the mad world outside continued to 
reverberate within the depths of her mind, seemingly as though to remind 
her that they were waiting for her. 

She cupped her face in her hands and sobbed softly. How like a trapped 
animal she was! Outside was a hell she couldn’t survive — not only because 
it wrought an irresistible, no doubt fatal, excruciation, but also because it 
robbed her of her identity and purpose so that, if she ventured out, she 
would be utterly lost without a sense of personal being. 

Toward mid -morning, there were perhaps two score persons in the 
church, most of them occupying pews near the altar. She increased the in- 
tensity of her determined resistance to shut out their personal thoughts. 

But she relaxed from the mental exertion almost immediately, realizing 



she would need her strength if she was to try to reach the Foundation before 
tfie day was over. So she moved to a pew at the extreme rear. 

(. . child . . distressed she loo\s! . . .) This Tstream from close by! 

(. . . almost all morning . perhaps if I spohe with . . .) 

She looked up. A black-robed figure, staring sympathetically at her, was 
coming down the aisle on her left. Nervously, she squirmed out of the 
pew (, . . timid she lool^sl . .) and crossed to the other side of the church 
(• • • frightened — actually frightened . . .) 

She couldn’t talk with anyone now! Had to conserve her strength! She 
slipped into another pew and moved to its far end — deep in the shadows. 

(. . later ^ not now . do believe Vd scare her off completely .) 

The priest turned away hesitatingly. 

(. . God^ mahe him come alive again . didnt mean hill . .) 

Then there came the impression of the blonde girl sobbing in a nearby pew. 
(. . . dorit want to go on living . . .) 

Almost angrily this time, Lois shut out the single stream of remorseful- 

At noon, even the hushed solemnity of the church no longer was the sanc- 
tuary it had been earlier — when the throngs on the street were compara- 
tively thin. Now, as thousands darted about during their lunch hour, their 
composite I-streams were a thunderous din that beat through the thick 
masonry of the walls. 

Lois’ features twisted in pain. She hid her face in her hands so her torture 
would not be observed. How long would it last? She tried to pray. But her 
will was not her own to dedicate to even that simple task. 

Desperately she fought to maintain her identity, to prevent the loss of her 
ownl-stream in the greater mass of warped, twisted, confusing consciousnesses 
that punished her with their thoughts of anger and greed, trickery and lust, 
selfishness, envy, hate. 

When she was sure that she must surrender to the unbearable assault, the 
attack began diminishing. Shortly after one-thirty, she was able to relax, 
somewhat, her shield of concentration. 

At 3:30, when the intensity of the impressions seemed to be at a minimum, 
she went trembling to the big doors. Now she must make her dash for 
the Foundation, less than four blocks away! She stared out onto the still 
crowded sidewalks and winced. And their I-streams seemed to lunge up 
derisively to slash at her. 

The composite thought impulses were an invisible cloak of madness. 

Falteringly, she went down the steps. 

(. . blonde lihp that coming out of church . . . what the hell does she have 
to pray for? . . .) 



Shaking violently, she turned toward the Foundation. 

(. damned stinging Jew . another thousand buc}{S wotLt be missed 
any more than the first eight thousand . . . oh^ hell^ another runner • • . 
wonder if she s on the mahe . . Maud'll thin\ Fm out of town tonight . • .) 

Foundation — church — Foundation — church, Lois repeated over and 
over to herself. She must firmly imbed in her conscious the only two places 
where she would be safe. And she must fight the violent impressions. She 
couldn’t let herself be drawn again into the fetal depth of lost identity 
among the I-streams! 

She had to . . find an appropriate anniversary present for the little woman. 

“No!” she shouted, breaking into a run. A score of heads turned to stare 
puzzledly at her as their direct thoughts of wonderment added to her utter 

“Foundation — church,” she muttered. “Foundation — church — ” 

She stumbled, half fell; steadied herself against a light standard. 

“Foundation — church — Foundation — beauty parlor — Foundation 
— stoc\ exchange — church — the comer lounge to meet Bill — ” 

Throwing her hands over her face, she screamed. “Church! Church!” 

(. . to the dentist ... the bookie joint on the second floor ... to the 

redhead's apartment . .) The phrases expressing destinations seemed to 

rear prominently among the incoming impressions. 

“CHURCH!” she screamed, turning around and racing back. 

Then she was stumbling up the steps and into the dim, candle-smoke- 
scented interior; staggering toward a pew close to the altar. But she altered 
her course and went over to a shadowy pew deep in the right wing of the 

Here was sanctuary. Here, the voices were barely a whisper. Here she could 
rest — until . . ? Until night when she would have no choice but to re- 

turn to the insanity-provoking railroad station and buy her ticket back 
home, where she would live hermit-like until she died — as her father had. 
Only he had had her to live with. She would have no one. 

She tried to fight the simmering I-streams with mental rejection, but it 
was a sleep of exhaustion that locked out the harassing thoughts as she lay on 
the hard wood of the pew. 

(. . . Hope she isn't ill . . .) 

Lois was aware of the weak thought as she awoke to the insistent shaking 
of a gentle hand. 

Terrified, unable to remember immediately where she was, she sat up 
with a lurch. 

“Don’t be frightened, child. It’s all right.” 



She turned and looked into the benevolently smiling fece of a short, stout 
priest. But his smile changed to surprise. (. , . same girl who was here ah 
most all day . . wonder — } . .) 

Determinedly, she shut out his thoughts. It was not hard to do when 
there was only one mind to fight. And she shrank involuntarily from him, 

“It seems we have here a young lady in difficulty.” He fingered his chin 
as his smile returned. 

The stained glass windows, robbed of their back lighting, were lifeless 
now. Through the huge door was darkness — and silence broken only by the 
occasional far-off sound of a horn. Bitterly, she realized it was hours past the 
Foundation’s closing time. 

“Of course,” the priest continued good-naturedly, “we look with pleasure 
upon those who visit with the Sacrament. But, unfortunately, we must 
close the doors at lo o’clock.” 

“I — m leave. I didn’t realize it was so late.” She sidled out of the pew 
and turned toward the rear of the church. 

But he caught her arm lightly. “You’re in trouble, child. Can you tell 
me what’s wrong.?” 

Hesitating, she bit her lips, shook her head. 

“Then will you tell me how I can help.?” 

“There’s nothing — nothing.” She continued on toward the exit. 

He followed. At the door, he stopped her again while she stared cautiously 

“If you have no place to stay,” he offered, “there’s a convent only a few 
blocks away. The Mother Superior is rather nice. I don’t think she would 
mind — ” 

He left the sentence incomplete, waiting for her reply. 

She scanned the almost deserted street. At the corner there was a single 
taxicab with its driver using a sidewalk telephone. In the next block a 
young couple leisurely windowshopped. The lonely thoroughfare held out a 
stark contrast to the maddening hell that had flailed her there only hours 
earlier. It would not be difficult now to get back to the train station. Now 
there were no throngs whose thoughts would torture her and usurp her 

But she gasped suddenly and turned to the priest. “What time is it.?” 

He stepped out on the sidewalk to glance up at the clock on the spire. 
‘‘Three minutes till lo.” 

Sudden terror clutched at her chest. The only train that could take her 
away from the city would leave at ten! She would never make it! And she 
would be trapped here for another entire day! 



Remembering the horror of the previous night, she shuddered. 

“I do think it’s best that you go to the convent tonight,” the priest sug- 
gested. “And tomorrow, if you like, we may talk.” 

Numbly, she nodded. 

He cupped his hands around his mouth and turned to the cab driver on 
the sidewalk. “Murphy,” he called. 

“Evening, Father.” The elderly man touched his cap visor as he came up. 

(. . wonder what he wants? J^ows Fll be at the Holy Name meeting 

tomorrow . . .) Lois had been concentrating on excluding the priest’s 
thoughts. So the driver’s Lstream had slipped through. 

“Will you take this young lady to the convent?” (. . . shell be all right 
there until mornings at least, poor child . .) 

In resisting the driver’s thoughts, she had lowered her guard against the 
other mind. Sighing, she abandoned her resistance. Anyway, like the 
thoughts in the church, they were harmless. And she was much too numb 
to care. 

Murphy took her arm and led her toward the cab. “See you tomorrow, 
Father,” he called back. 

(. . doesnt loo\ li^e the bad bind . .) She knew he was studying her 

obliquely as he opened the door for her. (. . . just libp Elaine . . .) The 
tenor of his thought told her Elaine was his daughter. 

She leaned back in the seat and thrust her hands in her coat pockets as 
he drove off. And again she felt the card with the name “Morton Nelson” 
on it. 

Suddenly she wondered whether he could help. He worked for the Foun- 
dation as a research assistant. She had gleaned that much from his mind. 
On the train, she hadn’t wanted to confide in him the true nature of her 
interest in the Foundation. For some reason, she had feared his reaction 
might be one of inordinate amusement — perhaps even embarrassing ridi- 
cule. But now she was desperate! 

Lois leaned forward on the seat. “I wish you would take me to this address 
instead.” She handed Murphy the card. 

“But .” (. . Father worUt libe it when he hears about this . • .) 

“It’s not what you think,” she said defensively, hurt. 

He turned at the next corner; said nothing. And the thoughts, which she 
didn’t want to hear anyway, were drowned out as they passed a loaded bus 
— lost in the stinging mass-assault of other consciousnesses upon her mind. 
She whimpered and shrank in the seat. Then the bus was behind him and 
she was free once more. But she kept her mind closed against Murphy’s 
reflections, not wanting to face the erroneous accusations she might find 


7 « 

Minutes later, she stood hesitant before Morton Nelson’s apartment, her 
hand raised to knock. 

An impertinent thought-image of gigantic waves washing across a beach 
welled in her mind. The waves disgorged a multi-armed marine monster that 
lumbered across the beach in pursuit of a man clad in pajamas. . . She 

raised her shield of resistance and shut out the vision of someone’s night- 

(. . and in Washington . before the House Un-American . . . turn 

to page four . .) 

She knocked. 

An impression of partial resentment came. (. . second interruption . . . 

calling at this hour? .) 

The door opened. 

“I — I — ” she began, swaying. 

(. . . who? .) “Lois!” He stood there perplexed, his large frame dom- 
inating the doorway, the paper hanging from his hand. He surveyed her ap- 
praisingly, unbelievingly. (. . . some hind of trouble . wonder — ? .) 

“What happened? You look like — ” 

There was disbelief on his angular face as he looked down at her rumpled 
clothing, her disheveled hair, the absence of cosmetics. And the fragments 
from his I-stream reflected his bewilderment. 

“May I come in?” 

He took her by the arm. She made no effort to hide the fact that shewas 
trembling. He brought her to the sofa. 

“I checked,” he said. “You didn’t show up at the Foundation.” 
(. . . worit as\ . . she'll tell . . guess that's why she's here . . . wonder 

where she went after the train . . .) 

“I — I’m hungry.” 

He frowned, expectantly silent. (. . . God, she is in trouble . . . loohs 
starved . . eggs in refrigerator . . .) 

“I couldn’t get to the Foundation. I had to spend the day in a church 
four blocks away.” 

He stared at her. She caught a patch of a mental image that showed him 
calming her, letting her cry against his chest. 

“I almost went crazy today, Mort. I — it’s more than extra-sensory per- 
ception. I receive thoughts — everybody’s in the vicinity. At the same 
time. I can’t shut them out. I couldn’t get to the Foundation because the 
pain of the thoughts, the thoughts themselves, kept making me forget who 
I was, where I was going.” 

He started. (. . . hind of deal is this? . . . psycho case? . . .) 

She sighed in resignation, “What kind of a deal is this; maybe she’s a 



psycho case,” she repeated. “I don’t get the complete thought-stream, just 

He gasped. (. . . tricJ^, , . . impossible ... she caiit be a — tele- 
path! . . .) 

Lois looked away. “It’s a trick,” she said in a montone. “It’s impossible. 
She can’t be a telepath.” 

He jolted, backed away. (. . I had a dog . . years 

old . . see if she can repeat that! . .) 

“You had a dog. Its name was ‘Fuzzy.’ You thought something about an 
age. I don’t know whether it was your age when you had the dog or the 
dog’s age. I missed something in there.” 

She looked guiltily at him. “Sometimes I can shut the thoughts out — 
when there’s only one or two persons. But they’re overpowering in a crowd. 
I can’t resist them.” 

Lois paused. “There’s somebody close by — in this building, I guess. He 
seems to be in an argument about an automobile backing into a tree by the 

“Sam Patterson and his wife!” 

“Mort,” she looked up pleadingly. “Will you take me for a drive in the 
country? Away from the city — where I can rest? Maybe we can figure out 
some way for me to get to the Foundation. You said you’d help.” 

She intercepted his mental picture. It showed him with her, riding in an 
.open automobile. Peaceful highway. Moonlight. His arm around her 
shoulder. But he was regarding the possible development only modestly, 
unassumingly. There was nothing in his I-stream to cause alarm. She knew 
that he would not put his arm around her if she didn’t want him to. 

Then he turned abruptly to thoughts of her haggard appearance and of 
the food that he might offer her from the refrigerator. 

It was a solacing ride and the air was clean and silent, undesecrated by the 
uninhibited profanity of a thousand minds. And the moon was bright and 
encouraging. There were only scattered farmhouses set far back off the road 
and no I-streams of any consequences .were coming from them. It took only 
little effort to blank out Mort’s unpretentious reflections. 

“Are you — listening in now?” he asked suddenly. 

“No. I avoid it whenever I can. It — it doesn’t seem proper.” 

“How long have you been this way?” 

“Ever since I can remember.” 

“And yet it was only today that you found you couldn’t bear it?” 

“Yesterday and today. But this is the first time I’ve ever been among — 
people . really among people. Oh, there were times before this — 
visits to the village, daily contact with a private teacher. But thoughts in a 



small town are — different. And there aren’t as many of them. At least, I 
could stand them once in a while — whenever I had to go in to town.” 

“You said your father was telepathic too.?” 

She nodded. “That was why we lived alone — after mother left him and 
after he found out I was the same way.” 

“Why did your mother leave.?” 

“In a way, dad wanted her to go, after he realized how hopeless it was. 
He saw the distrust that was in her mind; saw he would never be able to 
explain why he occasionally acted in compliance with her wishes, even 
before she expressed them. He knew, through his total knowledge of her 
character, that he would never be able to soothe her suspicions. Yet he also 
knew that if he disclosed his true nature she would be convinced it was 
impossible to live with him. Besides, he was certain that telling her would 
mean his eventual exposure.” 

“Why didn’t he tell her before he married her.?” 

“He wanted to try to live a normal life.” 

He slowed the automobile until it was barely moving. “Didn’t she love 

“I suppose she did — at first. But there’s no way of using hindsight to 
judge what her real feelings were, not with an — inhuman factor involved.” 

“But maybe if she had really loved him , . .?” 

Lois turned toward him, distressed. “What’s the difference between 
loving a person and really loving him.? How can you know when there’s 
enough love to compensate for the ii^compatibility in living with someone 
who has a supernatural talent.? That’s why dad said I would have to live 
alone; never get married; never have children.” 

He stopped the car and looked at her. On his face there was a silent refusal 
to accept the despair that she was trying to convey. 

“I suppose,” she went on, “that eventually dad could have adjusted and 
learned to live with her despite the — inhuman factor. But then, when I 
came along and when he saw, by looking into my mind even before I could 
talk, that I was going to have the same ability . . . well, I guess he just 
realized I wouldn’t be able to hide what had taken all his ingenuity to 

“He saw that in your childish inability to understand you would betray 
the fact that you and he could receive thoughts.?” Mort guessed. 

Lois nodded. “After that, he helped along the rift between them. She 
left before I was three.” 

She looked down into her hands and sighed helplessly. 

“He was determined for you and him to live alone.?” 

“He said we could never let people know about our difterence because 



we’d be nothing but — freaks. And there would always be someone who 
would find a way to use us — even against our will. He said there was no 

“And he died and you left.?” 

“He died and I had to leave. I couldn’t stay out there alone. I’m only 
twenty. I want to live the rest of my life normally. If I can’t, I don’t want 
to five it at all. Don’t you understand, Mort? I’ve got to find out 
whether dad was wrong; whether there is some way of curing me!” 

He looked sympathetically at her. “And you picked the Brinkwell 
Foundation for the answer.?” 

She nodded. “Oh, there are other institutions that study ESP. But Brink- 
well was the closest.” 

“It’s Army-subsidized, you know. Their only interest in ESP is its 
possible military application.” 

“But they’ve got to help!” 

“Have you asked them.?” 

She sighed. “In letters, yes.” 

“The results.?” 

“No answers. They probably thought like you.” She smiled weakly. 
“That I’m a psycho case. They ignored the letters. But I came anyway. 
If I can only get there, I can prove my ability. I showed you, didn’t I.?” 

“We’ll get you there.” He grasped her hand reassuringly. “I’ll keep you 
away from the city until the middle of the morning. I’ll call and tell them I 
have someone who shows special ESP talent. Then they’ll have everything 
ready for when we make our break through the city.” 

“I — ” She looked up into his face, arranging her now-combed hair. “I 
don’t know what I would have done — ” 

“When they submit you to the tests, however, I would suggest that you 
don’t try to tell them what your trouble is when you first go in. That’ll put 
them on the skeptical defensive right away. Let them find out. Then they’ll 
be anxious for you to tell them whatever you can.” 

He started the car up and drove off slowly. 

“Listening in now.?” he asked hesitatingly after a while. 

“I shouldn’t be.?” 

“No. That is — I mean — ” He sighed. “I keep forgetting that I can’t 
hide anything from you. . . Look, Lois, you’re a beautiful girl. I don’t 
guess I’d be normal if I didn’t sense a developing attraction.” 

He loosened his tie. “This is an awkward situation. What I’m trying to 
say is — well, you said those thoughts from the crowd were awful. But, 
some of them — those that aren’t purposefully lustful — are more or less 
instinctive and — ” 



“I understand, Mort.” She placed her hand reassuringly on his arm. 

“I mean I don’t want you to think . . I don’t want to be misunder- 
stood, is what I’m trying to say,” he finished abruptly. 

She smiled warmly. If there were only some way she could reassure him 
without herself blurting awkwardly. It would seem assuming to say. I’ve 
received enough thoughts to know the sincere ones from the imposing, 
selfish ones. 

Restrained fatigue seemed to flow up around her like an ocean swell. 
She put her head on his shoulder — because she felt that she would feel safe, 
secure if she did — while he drove on through the rural calm. Soon she was 

The lights in the office were dim and the atmosphere was one of depressing 
discomfort. Lois closed her eyes in frustration. 

“But, doctor,” she began protcstingly, “don’t you see — 

“Now see here. Miss Farley.” The man turned on her indignantly. 
“There is a prescribed procedure which we must follow in establishing an 
initial ESP rating. You must cooperate.” 

The tests had been monotonous, fatiguing. Almost as harassing as her 
frantic drive through the city with Mort. She wished he were here now in- 
stead of waiting in his office in the other wing. But they had insisted on 
examining her alone. 

“If you’d only let me explain!” she began again. 

Seated across the desk from her, the doctor looked up sharply. “There 
will be an interview to record any personal extrasensory experiences which 
you may wish to relate — later. But now we must go on with the tests.” 

She should have insisted on speaking with them first, she realized as the 
assaulting I-streams of the doctor and the three military men in the room 
mounted in intensity. 

The doctor cleared his throat. “We will continue with the card test. You 
will concentrate and call the cards as I turn them over and look at them.” 

(. . impertinent girl .) It was the doctor’s indignant thought that 

came as he picked up the top card on the face-down deck. 

(. . . could have my lieutenant coloneVs insignia in a wee\ if . would 
welcome overseas duty . . damned toothache .) These, she realized, 

were intruding impressions from the Army officers — thoughts that perme- 
ated and seemed to become a part of the I-stream of the civilian who sat 
opposite her. 

(. . . nothing exceptional in this case so far . . wonder if I should have 
that tooth extracted? . . MAYBE SHELL GUESS THIS ONE .) 
The doctor looked at the card. 



She tried to snatch the identity of the printed symbol from his mind. 
But (. it's hurting more now , duty in the Hawaiian Islands should 
see the dentist right after .) the other insolent thoughts were 

“Crescent,” she guessed suddenly. 

“Wrong again,” sighed the doctor. 

“Really,” the major rose impatiently. “We have seen nothing here to 
indicate any special ability.” 

Impulsively she rose too, tense with resentment. “I didn’t come here to 
read symbols. I didn’t say I could do anything like that. I receive words — 
thoughts — bits of what other people are thinking.” 

The men looked at one another cautiously. 

“Now, now. Miss Farley,” said the major indulgently, “do you propose 
to have us believe that you actually read minds?" 

She faced him angrily. But she restrained the words she would have used 
and turned her attention to their thought fragments, trying to repeat them 
as rapidly as they came to her. 

“. girl’s mentally unbalanced,” she called out in a fleeting voice. 

. telepathic reception! Impossible! . psychotic tendencies . 
no doubt now trying to create the impression she’s reading minds . . . 
I’ll call a nurse .” 

She relaxed, turned her concentration from the thought streams. “Now 
do you believe me?” 

The doctor was looking at her coldly. “That outburst. Miss Farley, was 
no doubt intended to convince us you were receiving thoughts from us?” 

“Didn’t it?” she asked apprehensively. 

The colonel laughed. “You merely called out a group of logical phrases — 
phrases which we would naturally be thinking under the circumstances.” 

The major and the captain nodded in agreement. 

She started. They were right! If she wanted to convince them, she would 
have to demonstrate at a time when they were off guard; when her at- 
tempted performance would not cause them to return to the stereotype 
thinking which they could charge was “logical and expected under the 

Numbly, she sat. 

“We will prepare for another test,” said the doctor. 

Lois, pretending indeterminateness in her actions, picked up the pencil 
and began scribbling on the pad before her. Now their thoughts were re- 
turning to normal. Now the major was thinking about becoming a lieuten- 
ant colonel; the captain, about overseas duty. She jotted down the thoughts 
as fast as she could. 



(. . . Harry did . . . painless job on that last tooth . . last assignment^ 

Cuba^ was . .) She had almost reached the end of the page. (. . MISS 

FARLEY — NAMES FAMILIAR be another wee\ before Ann . . . 
FARLEY — FARLEY — FARLEY . . . new slates for the kjd . . . OF 
TERS! .) 

She stopped writing and looked up at the doctor. “I’m the girl who wrote 
the letters about me and my father,” she said, relieved. 

(. . IS THE ONE! that crazy girl! . , prize dopes for being roped 

in on .) 

She stood excitedly in the center of the room. “The letters were true! 
Everything I wrote about was true! The thoughts in my head! I can’t stop 

(. . ha! She cant stop the voices in her head . . case for the psychiatrist 

. • . ought to hic\ her out .) There was only indignation — not even 
pity — in the impressions. 

“But you’ve got to believe me!” She glanced frantically around the 
room. Her eyes fell on the pad with her writing on it. She snatched it up; 
handed it to the doctor. 

He wrenched it from her and hurled it angrily into the waste basket; 
reached for the telephone. 

(. . . getridofherin a hurry . . . POLICE MEDICAL CONSULTANT 
. . . completely mad . . .) 

Suddenly she received someone’s idea-picture of a state mental institu- 
tion. She shook with fright. If it was excruciating for her to absorb the 
thoughts of a sane population, how could she possibly endure the Tstreams 
of the mentally deranged? 

The consciousnesses of the four men assailed her with blasts of resentment 
and accusation. Frantic and unable to arrange her own thoughts, she whirled 
around and lurched from the room before they could stop her; ran down the 
long corridor and out into the crowded street. 

Violent mental impressions closed in on her like an instantly coalescing 
fog. She reeled under their impact; opened her mouth to cry out in anguish. 

“Hi, Harry,” she said. “Got time for a quick beer?” 

She collided with someone in the sidewalk throng and the physical sensa- 
tion of sudden impact restored her awareness of self momentarily. 

“Church!” she muttered, regaining her balance. “Got to get . . Her 
voice dropped to a lower, coarser range, “Why in hell don’t you look where 
. . . hold mommy’s hand tightly, darling . . . yeah, that’s what the meter 

• • • 


There was another collision and she fell to the sidewalk roughly; tripped 
over the hem of her coat as someone tried to help her up. 

Dazed and tortured under the incessant barrage of thoughts and picture- 
images that were racing into her mind in a mad vortex, she looked around 
her. The Foundation was a block behind. 

Only three more blocks to go! 

The tall spire of the church dominated the skyline like a beckoning 
finger. But the image blurred and, although she was conscious of jogging 
numbly forward, eyes that were not her own but somehow sent their im- 
pressions to her brain focused on a pair of patent leather pumps in a show 

(. . Molloy s got them cheaper . .) 

“Church! Church!” Her individual consciousness broke through for an 
ephemeral second. 

Then there was a windshield in front of her. Also in her field of vision were 
two wrinkled hands that created the illusion of being her own while they 
gripped a steering wheel. She wrenched the wheel violently. 

(. . goddam old woman oughta stay on the sidewal\ where .) 

The windshield was gone. A pipe bowl dominated the area of vision. 
Again, hands which weren’t her own but which she seemed to control 
brought up a match and cupped its flame over the crimp-cut tobacco in a 
pipe bowl. Smoke swirled into her throat and came out through her mouth 
and nose. She coughed spasmodically. 

(. . . thanks for the match, skipper .) 

Brakes screeched. Stiff metal rammed against her hip. Once more she 
was conscious of falling. Someone helped her up in front of the suddenly 
halted automobile. 

Streams of vilification flowed into her mind. Numbly, she glanced at the 
irate, scared driver. A crowd started to gather. But she forced them aside 
and raced onto the other sidewalk. 

“CHURCH!” she screamed. 

Kirk Douglas placed his arms around Lana Turner’s waist and drew her 
close; kissed her. The words the end flashed across Lois’ mind and there 
was the taste of salty popcorn in her mouth. 

Now she put a cold metal object between her lips and blew hard; raised 
one arm and waved the other; watched a stream of cars come to a halt and 
another stream, perpendicular to the first, roll into motion and pass her on 
either side. 

“Come on!” she shouted. “Speed it up! Speed it up!” 

Finally she received the vague physical impression of tired, numb legs 
carrying her in a frantic dash up marble steps. The flamboyant archway of 



the main church entrance swam into focus. The Tstreams faded; the cap^ 
tured mental pictures began washing away like sand castles on a wave-swept 

Exhausted and bewildered, she grasped a font to steady herself. 

Then she walked falteringly up the aisle and knelt in a pew, lowering her 
forehead onto the back of the pew ahead of her. Fatigue was an overpower- 
ing compulsion that dulled her physical senses. 

(. . . Please^ God, forgive . had to him . . . told him about the 
baby and . .) 

Lois snapped erect. The blonde girl in the black dress that was almost a 
duplicate of her own was three rows in front of her. Lois searched for and 
found the shield-like determination to shut out the other’s thoughts. Then 
she sidled along the pew until she was next to the side aisle — deep in the 
shadows that hung close to the right wall. 

An hour passed. She tried to count the hours remaining before the streets 
would be sufficiently deserted to allow her to return to the train station. 
She sobbed. But she didn’t want to return home! She didn’t want to live 
alone — an outcast until her sequestered death! 

Abruptly she realized with a sense of calm that she would never consent 
to such isolation. She would not make the mistake her father had — living 
until natural death ended his anguish. Nor would she marry and have a child 
and learn that the child was like her and run with it to total obscurity. 

Now she was thinking of Mort — his tenderness and understanding, the 
love which he couldn’t hide. Perhaps she should see him first and thank him 
— at least tell him why she had raced off and left him waiting. But, 
no. It was better this way. Anyway, they’d tell him how they were con- 
vinced she was crazy and how she had fled. And he’d know that she had to do 
what she was going to do. It would hurt him. But he’d understand. 

It must have been the lunch hour. For persons were drifting into the 
church — the devout for noon-time prayers, she surmised. 

(. blonde hair . . . dar\ dress . . must be her . .) 

A man strode hurriedly up the center aisle, stopped at the entrance to the 
pew where the praying blonde knelt. 

It was Mort! 

His lips moved rapidly in a whisper as he turned into the pew. There was 
fright on the girl’s face as she looked at him. 

Lois was too far away to hear the whisper, but the word came to her 
telepathically (Lois!). 

Then he saw it wasn’t she and his face flashed disappointment as he 
backed out of the pew. But, turning in the right direction, he recognized 
her even as she tried to melt farther into the shadows. 


(. l^ew Vd find her here . . .) His I-stream welled as he approached. 
(. . must he haficrazy . . .) 

In the pew, he forced his way past a stout woman who stared up resent- 
fully at him. Then he was kneeling next to Lois, grasping her arm tenderly, 
but roughly — in desperation. 

“They’re looking for you!” he exclaimed. (. . found the pad in the waste 

basket . .) his thoughts raced ahead of his words. 

“Oh, Mort!” she gasped. “Then they believe.? They’ll help me.?” 

An elderly man, several rows ahead, turned and stared caustically at 

“They’ll help.?” Lois lowered her voice to a whisper. 

(. help? — ha? — theyll .) There was tragic distress in his eyes. 
“Lois, darling. They’re hunting all over! They reahzed what you really 

A protesting “sh-h-h” sounded in the back of them. 

Lois caught a mental picture of a large, high-ceilinged room with scores of 
men seated around curving tables, all confronted by microphones. 

“Mort!” she whispered fearfully. “What is it.?” 

“Can’t you imagine,” he explained in a toned-down voice, “the diplo- 
matic weapon you’d be as an ‘aide’ to the delegation to the United Nations.? 
We’d know immediately to what extent another power is bluffing; what 
their real military potential is!” 

She gasped. There’d be nothing but conferences and talks and meetings! 
And she would be forced to intercept all the international hate and decep- 
tion that would hang like an angry swarm over the Assembly room! 

“But I — I couldn’t stand it!” she exclaimed aloud. “I — it’d kill me!” 

The man ahead turned and regarded them severely. “Please!” he gruffed. 

“You’ve got to escape before they find you!” Mort pleaded, his lips 
close to her ear. (. . injections regularly . . . drugs to force rest between 

sessions . .) “You told them about your father too.?” 

She nodded, remembering the letters she had written. 

(. . will assume it's a newly ingrained, permanent hereditary trait . . .) 

“They’ll want more like you! They’ll make you have children for diplo- 
matic and military use!” 

In the quiet church his frantic words were an outburst. A score of heads 
turned in their direction. A priest walked from the sacristy onto the altar 
and stared puzzedly out at the worshipers. The woman at the other end of 
their pew moved to the front of the church. 

(. breed her . . li^e a prize animal at a county fair . . .) Lois was 
aware only of Mort’s distraught thoughts. 

She started to cry, quietly, with a restraint that was possible only by 



virtue of the grim, growing conviction that she did not want to live any longer. 

“It’s just like dad said,” she sobbed, almost below her breath. “They’d 
only find a way to use us selfishly!” 

He put an arm around her shoulder comfortingly. (. . . got to thin\ of 
something . . . some place to hide her . .) 

(. l^ll myself . that's what Vll do no other way . .) Was it 
her own thought, springing up as though of alien origin, to convince her 
that the only real sanctuary was death? 

“It’s no use, Mort.” She shook her head rmorosely and her voice was 
barely audible. “They’ll never stop hunting. They’ll have to search forever 
— even if it’s only for fear that an enemy power will find me first.” 

(. . must be some way . island? . forest? . ) His thoughts 

were desperate. (. . . carit lose her . ranchl . but no , they'd 
only connect me with her . . . find her through me . .) 

“It’s no use, darling,” she said, not looking into his eyes. “There’s only 
one way.” 

He looked apprehensively at her. 

“I’m going to kill myself.” 

He drove a fist into his palm in despair. 

The explosive noise sent heads turning toward them again and elicited a 
chorus of “sh'h-hs.” 

(. . love her . . . but that's too selfish a reason to mahp her see . 

got to find . . .) 

His eyes suddenly bored sternly into hers. “You have — ” he started in a 
normal voice; winced as he glanced around guiltily, and continued in a whis- 
per, “You have no right to take your life. More persons are concerned than 
just you and me!” 

She looked askance. 

“You are a whole racel" Robbed of emphatic speech, he stressed the words 
by gripping her arm rudely. “The accident that made you — the mutation 
suffered by your father, if that’s what it was — may not occur again in the 
next million years. You’ve got to preserve it! You’ve got to give the new 
race a chance!” 

She laughed bitterly but silently. “If it was a mutation, then it’s no good, 
Mort. Don’t you see, it’s a lethal mutation! One that makes existence in a 
normal world impossible — one that precludes survival!” 

She rose from her knees and sat in the pew. He sat beside her and caught 
her shoulders to turn her toward him. “It might seem that way now, 
darling. But we’ll never know unless we find out whether we can five with 
it. Your father did — until he died a natural death.” 



“But he lived an isolated life.” 

“Maybe that’s the answer! Isolation until there are sufficient num- 
bers . 

Lois turned away dourly. “By partial isolation, a moderate-sized colony 
might be formed three or four hundred years from now. But don’t you see 
what would happen as soon as our nature became known? Don’t you see 
how the elements of greed and profit would descend upon us — kill us off 
either violently or through forced servitude?” 

“Oh, darling!” he groped desperately. “How can I make you understand 
that the race is at a dead end? It’s devouring itself in its own selfishness and 
deceit — its own vicious lust!” 

“But, Mort — ” 

Unaware of it, their voices had welled gradually in volume until once 
more impatient eyes were ringing them in from all directions. The man 
ahead rose, left the pew, stood in the aisle for a second glowering at them, 
then walked heavily toward the back of the church. 

Irritated, Mort restrained his voice again. “The motivations that drive 
humanity now are the lethal ones! Not the ones you represent! Two thou- 
sand years from now, if you survive, things may be different. There’ll be a 
thoroughly unselfish race — one completely without deceit, enmity for the 
other person. With each mind open to every other mind, there’ll be no 
room for anything but good! There’ll be no hiding place for evil intent! 

“And the tortures you feel now — they’re not a necessary price that has 
to be paid for the ability. You suffer during thought reception because 
you’ve had no chance to adapt yourself to it on a full scale. You’ve been 
isolated since birth. Your coming to the city was like a person who’s been 
deaf from birth suddenly gaining his hearing in a massive concert hall where 
a thousand bands are playing ‘The Anvil Chorus’! If you’d been born there, 
you would be accustomed to the conglomerate thought-streams!” 

“But — ” 

“You are the second individual of a new race! You must protect the mil- 
hons of descendants who will come after you. You are the only one who can 
supply the scores of generations that will be needed for them to learn to live 
with the non- telepathic race!” 

Lois looked up suddenly and started. A tall, severe priest was standing in 
the aisle at the end of their pew. His arms were folded stiffly. Half the people 
in the church were surveying the personal scene eagerly — almost venge- 
fully, Lois imagined — to witness the consequences of their impudence. 

(. . . inconsiderate violation . house of God . . .) “I’m sure,” said 
the priest curtly, “there is nothing so important that it can’t wait until you 
are outside for discussion!” 



He turned and went back toward the front of the church. (. if they 

I^ep it up have to as\ them to leave . .) 

Hardly conscious of the interruption, she turned to Mort. “It’s no use. I 
can’t take the chance! You don’t know the torture of being dispossessed of 
your body while the thoughts of a hundred strangers take control of your 
lips, your hands, your mind!” 

Defeat spread out from his mind like a pall. She could feel its depressing 

(. . Iqll myself — now .) The phrase of forceful determination 

sprang up in her mind. She rose. 

She could feel the exasperation flowing from him as he opened his mouth 
to talk. But he shut it immediately, glancing in frustration at the others 
around them. 

Sit down! His thought emanation was an angry shout’. 

Unable to resist the authority that the unspoken order conveyed, she sat, 

(. . got to hill myself God forgive . had to shoot .) 

Fm not going to try to reason with you any longer, Lois. You're too distressed 
to thinh clearly enough for yourself; for me; for the millions of future persons 
likp you, 

“Mort!” she gasped. “I’m receiving your complete Tstream! Not just 
snatches! It’s just as though dad and I were talking with our thoughts! 
Are you a — a ,V' 

Noy Lois. Fm not a telepath. I just realized that no normal person had ever 
directed thoughts toward you before. And God knows I had to find some way of 
shouting loud enough to convince you! 

His thought impressions were ringing clearly in her brain — like vibrant 
chimes. But there was no pain attending their reception! His unspoken 
words were stronger than any group-impressions she had ever intercepted 
before; stronger even than the composite Tstreams she had received on the 
street. Yet the effect was not overwhelming but gently soothing. 

There was a commotion in the rear of the church. But she hardly heard it 
as she marveled over the discovery that his thoughts could be dominant — 
almost hypnotic — but painless at the same time. 

He glanced at the entrance. 

“Lois!” he whispered in alarm. “Did you tell them about the church.^ 
Did you tell them at the Foundation that you hid here yesterday?” 

She nodded, turning to look at the entrance. Two policemen were stand- 
ing in the doorway. A priest, confronting them, was shaking his head in 



The gasp that came from deep within the shadows of the nearby right 
wing was audible. no time left for prayerl . . . found me ^ God^ 
forgive me for what I have to do . .) 

The blonde in the black dress, staring in- terror at the policemen, eased 
out of her pew, passing near Lois and Mort, and found the broad stairway 
leading to the upper reaches of the imposing building. 

But one of the policemen saw her as she climbed through a patch of multi- 
colored sunlight coming from a stained glass window on the second level. He 
pointed. But the priest shook his head again. 

(. . . may be dangerous . . .) Lois intercepted a fragment of the thought 
behind the words of the oflScer, too far away to be heard. (. . got away 

from the Foundation this morning . . . if you insist on avoiding an arrest in the 
church . . .) 

Then they had assumed the distraught blonde was the fugitive telepath! 
Lois surmised as much when she reaUzed that the other girl did answer her 
description in a general sort of way except for the absence of the coat. 

Mort seized her hand and drew her unobtrusively out of the pew, into the 
aisle near the wall. Their flight concealed behind columns, he headed for the 
side exit. 

“We’ll get out of the city,” he said eagerly. “My ranch. It’s far away 
from everything and — ” 

“They’ll know, Mort! When they find you’re missing, that’ll be the first 
place they’ll look!” 

But he ignored her protest with a brusque, “We have to take the chance.” 
Then they were outside in the chasm-like alleyway between the church 
and the adjacent building. The impressive, rough-stone walls of the former 
stretched 100 feet up to the parapet wall on their right; the unbroken, 
brick wall of the latter, 50 feet up on their left. 

The I-streams from the crowds on the street began assailing her and she 
brought her hands up nervously to her face as they turned toward the 
alley exit. 

But he stopped abruptly. (. . gate . . . locl^dl . .) 

She looked ahead. A solid metal gate barred the only exit to the street. 
Behind them, the alley ended against the imprisoning wall of a third 

A terrified scream erupted in the dismal gorge. 

Lois intercepted mental impressions of terrific fear, despair, and looked 
up in time to see a form hurthng down from an open window on the fourth 
level of the church. 

She threw her hands over eyes as Mort grasped her shoulders and pulled 
her protectively against him. 



The intruding sensations of desperation, terror, ended abruptly as the 
harsh sound of the soft body striking the concrete surface reached her ears. 

(. . girl in the church . . .) It was Mort’s horrified I-stream, 

“Oh, Mort!” she clutched his arm frantically. “She was so much like me! 
So much in trouble that she couldn’t bear it either!” 

“So much like you!” he repeated, inspired. “That’s it, Lois! Take off your 
coat — quick!” 

She looked at him in bewilderment, trying not to let her eyes fall on the 
crushed body of the girl. 

“Your coat!” he insisted as she hesitated. (. . face mangled torn 

beyond recognition against the stones of the wall . . .) 

Still confused, she took off the coat and handed it to him. He hurled it to 
the ground next to the girl’s body. 

“You’ve got identification somewhere?” he asked. 

“My purse . . There’s a wallet; some money; papers. Yes, there’s an 
identification card too.” 

He snatched Lois’ purse; substituted it for the girl’s, which had fallen 
beside her body. Then he took Lois’ hand and raced with her behind one of 
the decorative pilasters spaced along the side of the church. 

He gave her the handbag. “When we get to the ranch I’ll destroy it.” 

“The ranch?” 

“Of course.” He smiled. “You’re dead now. Don’t you understand, 
darling? They won’t have any reason to keep on hunting for a dead telepath. 
I’ll leave you at the ranch and come back here; work for a few months more 
so they won’t be suspicious. Then I’ll join you and — ” 

A key grated in the lock of the metal gate. They shranl^ farther behind 
the pilaster as police, followed by scores of curious persons, surged into the 
alleyway, encircled the girl’s body. 

Their thought streams began assailing Lois as they pressed closer to her 
hiding place. 

(. . suicide . . from the church window^ too pretty legs that 
window up there . . . messy face . ) 

Dont thinly, Lois! If their thoughts are reaching you fust refuse to hear them. 
Listen to mine. Concentrate on what fm thinkings darling. If s peaceful out at 
the ranch. Nobody within miles, Ifs deserted now. But we'll stoc\ up and paint 
the barn and redecorate the house and , 

^iis powerful but comforting thoughts were a steady intonation that stood 
like a shield between her and the neurotic Lstreams of the others. She smiled 
up at him and there was confidence on her face. 

He took her hand and they stepped from behind the pilaster to join the 
crowd that was leaving the alley for the street. 

T^commended Trading 


Next month we’ll devote this column to our usual Best-of-the-Past-Year 
list; and in the four and a half years since this magazine was founded (which 
roughly coincides with the recognition of science fiction by regular trade 
publishers), we haven’t had such a plethora of first-rate books to choose 
from. In particular, 1953 was an astonishingly strong year in full-length 
science fiction novels; earlier in the year there were extraordinary novels 
by Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clarke, C. M. Kornbluth (both solo and in 
collaboration with Frederik Pohl) and Ward Moore, any one of which 
could have been the single, strikingly outstanding Best Novel of a previous 
year — and now comes Theodore Sturgeon’s more than human (Farrar, 
Straus & Young, hard cover, $2; Ballantine, paper, 35ff), which ranks at 
least beside and possibly above those just mentioned. 

This is the book which was originally announced for publication as the 
FABULOUS IDIOT, a long novel of which the celebrated Galaxy novella baby 
IS THREE forms the middle section. It may seem absurd to speak of the 
coming of age of an old -line master responsible for so many pure classics 
of science-fantasy as Sturgeon ; but the truth is that this new novel repre- 
sents such an advance over the previous highs of Sturgeon’s work that it 
seems to mark the first complete fulfilment of his unique talents. 

As all science fiction readers know, Sturgeon has been much obsessed for 
years by the concept of symbiosis — the idea that among sensitive human 
beings one and one can add up, not to two or even three, but to a greater 
One, of a different order of magnitude. Here he has finally achieved the full 
and definitive statement of this theme, in the story of a half dozen people, 
curiously ranging from idiocy to genius, who became together one unit of a 
new race: Homo Gestalt. And on this theme Sturgeon has constructed a 
novel as varied as the members of this strange unit. In its crystal-clear prose, 
its intense human warmth and its depth of psychological probing, it is a 
first-rate “straight” novel; its ingenious use of telepathy, psychokinesis and 
other “psi” powers make it admirable science-fantasy; and the adroit plot- 
ting and ceaseless surge of action qualify it as a distinguished suspense story. 
Symbiotically, these factors add up to more than their sum — add up, 
indeed, to one of the most impressive proofs yet of the possibility of science 
fiction as a part of mainstream literature. 




You’ll find most of these same Sturgeonesque qualities (including many 
statements of the symbiosis theme) in his second collection of short stories, 
E PLURiBUs UNICORN (Abelard, $2.75), but this time without any cumula- 
tive effect. The book is a hodgepodge of hitherto unreprinted Sturgeon 
(much of it non-fantasy), which adds up only to evidence of a distinctive 
talent shooting off in random directions. The unicorn of the title is, of 
course, the beautiful The Silken Swift (F&SF, November, 1953) and there 
are a number of other Grade A Sturgeon stories . . along with a good 
many one can see no particular reason for collecting. It’s still a book belong- 
ing in any fantasy library; but more selective editing could have produced 
a far better volume. 

Yet another 1953 novel which would have shone like a nova in a lesser 
year is Fritz Leiber’s the green millennium (Abelard, $2.75). Apparently 
not published in any magazine, this is a full-scale study of that terrible 
degenerate future of sadism and cut-throat enterprise so bitterly and bril- 
liantly described in some of Leiber’s best short stories. A new and different 
kind of interplanetary invader, an elaborate complex of plots and counter- 
plots, Heinleinesque exposition of a future technology and culture, and 
plentiful injections of sex, tension and sheer pursuit-excitement put this up 
beside Bester and Kornbluth in the suspense-cum-sociology division of 
future fiction. 

Of course 1953’s novels have not been unfailingly on this high level. 
Lewis Padgett’s well of the worlds (Galaxy, 35 ff) is an alternate-universe 
adventure story which winds up with a splendidly visualized, C. L. Moore- 
ish climax, but takes a slow and conventional road to reach it. A. E. van 
Vogt’s THE universe MAKER (Ace, 35 ji) sounds like the work of an imitative 
neophyte who had read too much van Vogt and absorbed the weaknesses 
without the strength. And L. Sprague de Camp’s the tritonian ring 
(Twayne, $2.95) is one of those endless tales of a prehistoric (or more pre- 
cisely, non-historic) kingdom of swordplay and bloodshed, which seem to 
us to bear little relation to science fiction or fantasy. Those readers — and 
they are apparently numerous — who dote on this sort of thing will also 
revel, of course, in Robert E. Howard’s the coming of conan (Gnome, 
$3), which includes, among other items, two of the recently discovered 
Howard fragments reconstructed by de Camp. 

In addition to this Howard volume and the Sturgeon collection, there 
have been three recent books of shorter pieces, all of more interest to the 
historian and collector than to the general reader. Robert A. Heinlein’s 
ASSIGNMENT IN ETERNITY (Fantasy Press, $3) contains two lightweight and 
.entertaining novelets and two pretty weak short novels — all interesting 
as Heinlein-never-before-reprinted, but hardly a book with which we could 



defend our thesis that this is the foremost living writer of true science fic- 
tion. John W. Campbell, Jr.’s the black star passes (Fantasy Press, $3) 
is a hopelessly outdated set of novelets from Amazing in 1930, written well 
before the author could vote, of concern only to those who wish to observe 
the awkward larval stage of a major figure in science fiction — though you 
should read Mr. Campbell’s objective and attractive introduction. Zealia 
B. Bishop’s THE CURSE OF YiG (Arkham House, $3) contains three negligible 
stories from Weird Tales, plus two first-rate biographical profiles: one 
plausibly presenting H. P. Lovecraft in a somewhat less favorable light 
than that in which he is shown by his idolators, and one which comes close 
to doing justice to the fabulous career of August Derleth. 

In the largely drab field of science fiction for younger readers, John Keir 
Cross’s THE STOLEN SPHERE (Dutton, $2.75) is purc and absolute delight — 
for adults just as much as for the audience at which it’s aimed. Not much 
science, to be sure, but a wondrous melodrama with a vivid show business 
background, in which a team of trapeze artists travel all over Europe al- 
ternately pursuing and being pursued by the sinister illusionist Rubberface, 
as gratifyingly villainous a villain as we’ve met in years. It’s that rare com- 
bination, found, for instance, in R. L. Stevenson and Michael Innes, of high 
literacy and forthright blood-and-thunder, and we can’t wait for the prom- 
ised sequel. Milton Lesser’s the star seekers (Winston, $2) is a juvenile 
restatement of the theme of Heinlein’s Universe — the lost spaceship- 
civilization which has come to think that the ship is all the world there is. 
Details of logic, extrapolation and mathematics are often slipshod; but it’s 
a lively, imaginative, well- told adventure story for the young. 

Unfortunately, little good can be said about Lesser’s anthology, looking 
FORWARD (Beechhurst), a book distinguished only by its incredibly high 
price of $4.95. In his introduction, this editor announces that “science fic- 
tion has come of age” . whatever that may mean. Prime support for 
this contention is drawn from recent television and motion picture activi- 
ties! We need not discuss the anthology’s contents here; they are either run- 
of-the-mill or easily available in better collections. Hereward Carrington’s 
amorphous collection of fantasy, the week-end book of ghost stories 
(Washburn, $3.50), arrays such multi- told classics as The MonJ^y* s Paw with 
a few unknown stories that are wretchedly inadequate in idea and execution. 
It’s not even a bargain for the beginning collector. 

As far as the present inhabitants of Terra are concerned, probably the 
most important book ever to be mentioned in this column is Major Donald 
E. Keyfioe’s flying saucers from outer space (Holt, I3). Major Key- 
hoe’s long struggle for permission to make public the records of the United 
States Air Force’s data on Unidentified Flying Objects — certainly a more 



precise, less absurd term than ‘saucers’ — resulted in temporary victory. 
With the permission of officers no longer in uniform he has published a 
detailed (and disturbing) record of observations by pilots, by ground ob- 
servers . and by radar. It should be stressed that the Air Force has 
never discontinued its formal project of recording and attempting to eval- 
uate all sightings of UFO’s. Happily or unhappily, as the case may be, the 
Air Force has split into two factions over the advisability of making its 
authenticated data public. The advocates of publicity opened the files of 
the Air Technical Intelligence Center to Major Keyhoe; now, most of these 
have left the service and the proponents of secrecy are, for the moment, in 
command. While it is reassuring to know that our air arm is neither sen- 
sationalizing these extra-terrestrial visitors as did Messrs. Scully and 
Adamski, nor explaining them away with the ludicrous disregard of fact of 
a Menzel or Liddell, these reviewers can’t help feeling that this nation is 
adult enough to be told the exact state of things as they are. But Major 
Keyhoe’s book more than counteracts this dubious policy of silence. It is a 
sober, incontrovertible argument that we are now being observed (and 
have been for some years) by some form of highly intelligent alien life and 
that one day soon, we’ll all have to decide what’s best to do about it. con- 
quest OF THE MOON (Viking, $4.50), edited by Cornelius Ryan, is a unified 
and vastly expanded version of the Collier's symposium by Wernher von 
Braun, Fred L. Whipple and Willy Ley. And of course, the book has won- 
drous illustrations by Chesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman and Rolf Klep. The 
unification makes it impossible to determine who wrote what; further, the 
book is slightly flawed by a certain “this is how it’s going to be” dogmatism 
and by a deliberate failure to mention the implications of war and politics. 
But by and large, it is an excellent study, especially in its detailed explana- 
tion of just what we will do on the moon once we land there, and there’s 
almost a complete roster of research projects that must, and will be launched 
on Luna. There is plausible data on time schedules and over-all costs. As- 
suming that all goes well with this by no means best-of-all-possible worlds, 
we shall very soon visit and explore our satellite and the whole operation 
will be pretty much as these men prophesy. The third discussion of space 
travel, your trip into space, by Lynn Poole (Whittlesey, $2.75), is a 
juvenile although the jacket doesn’t mention that fact. Well, your editors 
have three sons between them; for once censorship will be exercised and 
none of the three will be exposed to this dull hodgepodge of confusion and 
downright inaccuracy. 

In which it is revealed that the Powers of Hell and of Heave/t, much though 
they may otherwise differ, agree in regarding the weight of the evidence 
as the immutable foundation of justice. 

^he JIppraiser 


“All I ASK in return for my soul,” said Mr. Randolph modestly, “is one 
world-famous ballerina. I don’t demand a long succession of varied mis- 
tresses. Also I want to be a celebrated actor. Of course I must live in a 
setting worthy of — ” 

He coughed at this point, not from embarrassment, but because the 
strong sulphur fumes irritated his throat. 

The devil in charge looked properly sympathetic. “We’re sorry fumes are 
so strong in the antechamber,” he said (his own voice was a little rough), 
“but there’s nothing we can do about it. You’d think with all the techno- 
logical improvements, most of which were dreamed up here originally, 
that we’d have made some progress in fume control. But no.” He smiled 
a pleasant devil-to-devil grin that made Mr. Randolph instantly at home. 

Mr. Randolph even felt so much at ease that he wondered if he might 
not have asked for rather more — perhaps to be the greatest Hamlet of 
recorded time. After all, with his youth, his looks, and his fine Virginia 
breeding, mistresses had not — He ran his hand over the soft black hair 
that was like a cloud above his long face, and thought perhaps he could 
have attended to the women on his own. Maybe he should have put more 
stress on his career, which seemed at the moment to be limited to summer 
engagements in Paul Green’s symphonic drama. The Common Glory, at 

The young man pulled himself up short. No, he’d resolved not to price 
himself out of the market. He’d stick to his original proposition. He pressed 
his hand against his left side (from which a devil with sterile instruments had 
deftly extracted his soul only a few moments before). His side felt lighter, 
but probably that was imagination. 

“Perhaps you’d like to look around the Museum while you wait for our 
appraiser’s report,” the devil said. He led Mr. Randolph to a room opening 




off the antechamber. If it had not been for the red glare, Mr. Randolph 
could have imagined himself in Washington, entering one of those educa- 
tional displays that explain about our forest resources or the distribution of 
edible fish. 

The Museum was filled with cases, each of which contained the soul of 
someone every school child should know. Complete explanations of the 
souls’ values were posted conveniently near. 

“We feel this is unusually informative,” said the devil, with excusable 
pride, as he led Mr. Randolph to the smoldering, but slightly flawed, ruby 
that was the soul of Julius Caesar. “He traded it in for supreme generalship 
and literary style of the first order. It’s not usual for the same man to want 
both, but we were able to oblige him, in spite of an obvious flaw which 
lessened his value. All we asked in return was that his Commentaries should 
be used to teach elementary Latin, that he should be assassinated at the 
height of his career (we really did him a favor there) and that” — the devil 
chuckled — “that he should become prematurely bald. We had serious 
trouble there, but finally made him see things our way. Look around for 
yourself now. You’ll see how generous our terms have always been.” 

Mr. Randolph, uneasy in spite of his jaunty air, looked in Case §2, 
It contained a white butterfly, all that was left of Madame Du Barry. The 
Devil must have fancied it; though the French milliner only asked for a 
king to bring morning chocolate to her bedside, she got a good deal more, 
including an exquisite gold-and-white library with hardly any books. 

Mr. Randolph — remembering what a charmer Jeanne Becu had been — 
felt depressed. Bleak suspicions chilled him. Though he held his head high 
and smiled as if all life were infectious fun, he began to wonder why the 
appraiser was taking so long. Perhaps this was a regular procedure in Hell, 
a device for tiring you, making you take any terms, no matter how empty. 
He thought maybe he was being watched. On the off chance, he wolf-called 
under his breath to the glinting, ever-changing flame which was the soul of 

Then, before he was aware of any change, the Museum wall disappeared. 
It did not shatter, it did not melt, it did not dissolve. It simply ceased to 
be, and he was staring at the gigantic figure of the Appraiser. 

The body was the body of a man, but the head was the head of a dog — 
and had sad dog eyes. The Appraiser was absorbed and unapproachable 
as if he were leading a blind man, and he had an air of dependability so 
great that you would leave anything in his keeping or take his word on any 
matter — if he spoke. Even with his solemn, impersonal muzzle silhouetted 
against the flames of Hell, he was familiar. Then Mr. Randolph realized 
who it was. Anubis. On the walls of tombs along the Nile, he stood as he 



Stood now, holding a balance in his godlike hand. Always he weighed a soul 
against the unaging Feather of Truth. 

Mr. Randolph tried to see what his soul weighed, but the sulphur fumes 
were making his eyes water, and the red glare was trying. Everything grew 
a little indistinct. While he rubbed his eyes, the Appraiser vanished and Mr. 
Randolph founds himself talking to the Prince of Darkness, who always 
concluded transactions personally. 

‘‘‘Of course,” said the Prince, “your estimate of yourself was exaggerated. 
We had to spend a good deal of time seeing if we could give anything in- 
teresting for that soul of yours. As you probably know, the bottom has 
dropped out of the soul market. Fll have to take a terrific loss on my in- 
ventories. But,” he, added with professional cheerfulness, “I think we can 
reach an agreement. Instead of a ballerina, you can have as your mistress 
a pretty little woman who will find an affair with you vastly more exciting 
than PTA meetings. She will even prefer being with you to buying a 
becoming hat — and if you think this a trivial point, you do not know 
women very well.” The Prince of Darkness smiled a wonderful, confidential 
smile which made Mr. Randolph know the Prince had seen into every heart 
and was putting all his knowledge at Mr. Randolph’s disposal. “I’m afraid 
the lady will grow a little plump — eventually — but even Lady Hamilton 
put on weight. I can promise you big parts in any little theater production. 
Your home will be a house that you have remodeled charmingly, doing 
most of the work yourself. I’ll accept any of your suggestions as to details — 
within reason, that is — though personally I see something small and 
Eighteenth Century, with brick painted white and potted evergreens in 
blue tubs — ” 

“I shall keep my soul,” said Mr. Randolph loftily. He felt it slither back 
into his side, glad to be home. He turned sharply and jammed his hat on 
his head in spite of the fact that royalty was in the room. Then he stalked 
out of the antechamber of Hell. 

In middle age Mr. Randolph was a moderately successful realtor. 
He never lied outright about properties he handled, no matter how great 
the temptation. Occasionally he lost a sale in this way, but his feeling of 
integrity was worth it. Of course if customers, quite on their own, made 
false deductions about houses he showed, that was their affair. After all he 
had to make a living. 

He was genuinely kind to an aunt of his, and even sometimes went to 
church with her. He did this out of natural amiability, not because he hoped 
the old lady would leave him her money. Although he became, Hke Caesar, 
prematurely bald, he never lost his appeal. When he turned his dark eyes 



on women of any age, they were flattered. In the course of time, he side- 
stepped matrimony with two young things. He did it from acute dislike of 
mating April and — well, October. 

He was always popular, with his fine Virginia breeding, and a wonderful, 
confidential smile (the original of which he never discussed). Presently he 
became convinced that his interview with the Prince of Darkness was only 
a dream. It seldom bothered him, although, after he learned he had a heart 
condition, he felt uneasy now and then. But even in the dream, he never 
actually sold anything to the Devil. He only thought of doing it. 

He died, as he had done everything else, with an air. In the last instants, 
that air concealed something close to panic. 

As the Pearly Gates swung open, St. Peter hurried out to meet Mr. 
Randolph. The latter recognised the Saint because of the keys he carried. 
They were utterly useless, the way the Gates worked now, but St. Peter 
liked them as a reminder of the past. The Saint smiled, for he saw Mr. 
Randolph was nervous. So the Saint talked soothingly, and because he was ^ 
truly kind, came straight to the point. 

“We’ve had all the work done on your soul,” he said. “I shan’t keep you 
in suspense. There were — uh — irregularities, and the Recording Angel 
felt he’d like the advice of an expert. So we called in a splendid appraiser — 
been in business for thousands of years.” 

A queer feeling came over Mr. Randolph. Heaven didn’t shatter, melt, 
nor dissolve — but instead of golden streets and living waters, he saw the 
head of an enormously reliable dog, and he watched the infinitely skilled 
fingers balance a soul and weigh it against the unaging Feather of Truth. 

“Of course the Appraiser’s decision is final,” murmured St. Peter. 

Mr. Randolph found himself on his way home from the Little Theater, 
walking toward potted evergreens in blue tubs that flanked the Eighteenth 
Century door he had himself remodeled. He glanced at the pretty woman 
beside him. He had never felt more platonic. She was putting on weight, 
but then — Mr. Randolph thought tolerantly — even Lady Hamilton 
finally grew stout. 

6 will mean w/CWtYi 


January 2 to 31 

There are a number of -pseudoscientific ideas which now seem irrevocably 
associated with the unreadable early days of gadget-story science fiction; 
but once in a great while a clever writer will sei%e upon one of these hoary 
themes as a perfect subject for lighthearted modern farce — aSy for instance^ 
John Wyndham did in the memorable Perfect Creature (F&SFy January y 
Now Winston M^arksy one of the large number of bright young men to 
arise in the science-fantasy field in the last year or twOy takes the ancient 
thesis of the over-stimulated and ever-expanding protozpon and produces a 
fine fresh piece of logical absurdity. 

Call JMe <tAdam 


This first two-hour session will be in the nature of a preliminary lecture. 
The board of regents insists that I repeat it each fall to satisfy morbid 
curiosity about my person, thus diminishing the distraction of my unique 

As you all know, my brother was an ameba, a single-celled animal of the 
Protozoa, Class Rhizopoda. The exact species is lost in the somewhat less 
than immaculate records kept by the infamous Dr. Bondi. Enough to say 
that my origin was the lillypond of Minnegala University campus, and 
the exact location of my birth, petri dish number i 6 , Room 22, in the 
Zoology Building of this campus. 

Yes, I am still a unicellular animal, one huge ameba with many of the 
limitations of my microscopic brother. My man-size and man-mentality 
are the results of Dr. Bondi’s immoral meddling. My human shape, how- 
ever, is of my own choosing. 

At this point there is always some doubt in the eyes of the freshman^ so 
observe: My right hand, five fingers, opposed thumb and all. Watch 

There, you see? It is a false appendage. The blob you now look upon is 
the pseudopodium, characteristic of amebic forms. With your permission, 
I reform it to its more useful shape. 

My accelerated metabolism consumes considerable energy, and the 
nature of my “skin” is such that I must keep it moist. I lose much moisture 




by evaporation, so I must drink frequently or else remain submerged. The 
latter being impractical for lectures, you must put up with my imbibing. 

I shall begin with the moment of my separation from my brother. In 
later lectures we shall explore certain parts of my racial memory, but today 
I wish only to satisfy your drooling inquisitiveness as to my person, my 
metamorphosis and the sordid events leading to my anthropomorphic 

After fission I was hungry. The temperature was pleasing, and the 
nutrient solution in which I lay was rich in minerals and food. Ingesting was 
ecstasy. I relaxed and spread pseudopodia in long streamers to increase my 
surface area. 

Allowed to continue this luxurious orgy, doubtless I should have divided 
again in a few hours, but suddenly I was sucked up rudely and dropped 
into cold, sterile water. 

I became conscious of a complete absence of light, and all urge to fission 
fled. As I later deduced. Dr. Bondi had placed my new petri dish in a 

As the temperature sank lower I began throwing out minerals to my 
exterior walls to form a protective pellicula, but before my encystment was 
well started, light returned and I was placed in another warm nutrient bath. 

This time there was an alien salinity to the solution. I have wondered 
since whether Dr. Bondi was trying things at random, or whether he knew 
what he was doing. We shall never know; but if his original purpose was to 
cause me to grow without dividing, he succeeded very well. 

The mildness of my state of uncertainty about my diet allowed me to 
ingest steadily, but my desire to reproduce was never permitted to develop. 
I might explain that the Protozoa require conditions within certain optimum 
limits to their liking before they will turn to the activity of fission. Dr. 
Bondi frustrated my reproductive instinct with his shifting diet and 
temperature variation. 

From his notes we know that I reached a size visible to the naked eye in 
just a few days. Then, when I was about the size of a quarter, he began 
playing a needle point of brilliant light on a speck of my exterior. 

Normally, I enjoyed light; but at first this brilliant spot was irritating, 
and I would try to retreat from it. Dr. Bondi would have none of this, 
however. He conditioned me to seek the light by reducing the nutrient 
value of my bath when I retreated and increasing it when I moved toward 
the light. 

By the time my bulk was potato-size, I had developed a stigma, or light- 
sensitive spot, with which I sought to detect quickly the source of light 
which led me to a richer diet. 



At this stage of my development I became dimly aware that something 
or someone was manipulating my environment. For a Protozoan, this was 
an astute bit of ratiocination, but then I was being pushed to the limits of 
my irritability. The frustration of my urge to accomplish a long overdue 
act of reproduction was building unique stresses within my cytoplasm. 

Now, when a bit of meat was dropped near me, instead of slowly rolling 
over and engulfing it, I would whip out a protoplasmic lash and snatch it 
to me. When the bright light flashed, I would exude a slender tail at once 
and wiggle like a pollywog to get my reward. 

Bondi encouraged this more rapid activity by making my reward 
dependent upon the time in which I acted to claim it. As my bulk increased 
to the size of a water-melon, Bondi forced other adjustments upon me. 

I began organizing for quicker and more successful action. I thickened 
my cytoplasm to a gelatinous consistency and located my nucleus next to 
my stigma, so that my light reaction would be swifter. Also, I formed 
delicate fibrillary networks to all parts of my outer integument which was 
toughening up to contain my greater bulk and weight-pressure. 

These fibrillae served as strengthening members and as a somewhat 
specialized nervous system. Bondi made certain of this intellectual trend 
by instituting a series of punishments. When I reacted too slowly to a 
stimulus, such as the light, he would jab me with a needle or squirt acid on 
me. I learned to retreat quickly as well as to advance. 

This bestial behavior of your “honored” Dr. Bondi also heightened my 
awareness of him and of the relationship which existed between us. 

His alternating punishment and reward became more complex. The 
old “eat or be eaten” simplicity of primitive pond behavior was inadequate 
for peace in Bondi’s torture tub. I was forced to distinguish between 
different intensities of lights to get my reward of horsemeat. Failure drew 

Then he began lowering the level of my liquid bath, forcing me to pro- 
tect my exposed portions by partial encystment. He insisted that I develop 
a “mouth” by eliminating nutrients from my shallow bath and offering 
food to me at a certain point, just below my stigma. This latter had de- 
veloped into a well differentiated eye, although it never could be classed 
other than a temporary organellum. 

At first sound vibrations were meaningless to me, but Bondi found 
certain frequencies and intensities that were painful enough to be useful 
as stimuli. 

Again, by a system of reward and punishment, he forced me to develop 
my sensitivity to sound, and it was not long before I was making primitive 
advance-retreat responses to his spoken words. 



My weight at this time was approaching 100 pounds, and it was now 
that my highly titillated nervous system began advancing at an extremely 
rapid rate. My eagerness to avoid punishment was converted into a sharp 
curiosity about the multitude of impressions that bombarded my organella 
or pseudo-senses. 

Bondi wrote of his great elation when I discovered that a second stigma, 
or eye, enabled me to see better. That day he fed me a whole fresh salmon. 

From that time until this, my frustrated desire to reproduce has been 
sublimated into an intellectual curiosity. I will admit that had Bondi 
allowed me, in those days, to submerge in a peaceful bath without torment- 
ing me, I should have gone into fission within hours. 

The precise meaning of human emotions has always escaped me, but I 
suppose you could say I hated Dr. Bondi from my first awareness of him. 
My developing mind clawed at him for information to satisfy my new 
hunger, but it was in the manner in which a human scratches a mosquito 
bite — ^angrily — with a sort of masochistic pleasure. 

Long before he was aware of it, I had a sizable basic vocabulary. Many 
of the words were simply exclamations of profanity to which the vile Dr. 
Bondi was addicted. These were the easiest, for usually they were accom- 
panied by some wanton act of cruelty. 

Learning to speak aloud myself, however, was somewhat more involved 
and came about partly through sheer chance. 

My bulk had placed such a strain on my skin that I had to thicken it to 
support my weight. In doing so it lost much of its permeability to air. Being 
of aerobic nature, I adjusted to this by strengthening the walls of my 
gullet with a network of thick fibrillae, but maintaining a moist, oxygen- 
permeable area down its whole fifteen-inch length. 

My chronic state of excitation consumed much oxygen, so to supply it to 
my limited gullet surface, I learned to pulsate the adjacent protoplasm. 
In short, I was using the deep, moist pit under my eyes as a sort of lung 
as well as an esophagus. 

Because this exposed tissue was the most vulnerable, I kept the exterior 
“lips’* nearly closed except when ingesting. The slot, then, was just large 
enough to admit the air. 

One day when Bondi was displeased with me for some trivial failure, he 
jabbed me with a pair of electric test prods. It was a new form of indignity, 
and my whole gelatinous structure tensed up in an effort to escape. The 
air in my pseudo-lung, compressed by the tension, escaped in the blubbering 
sound that humans use to express derision — a fair imitation of your 

I caught the significance even before Bondi, and I spent the periods 



of solitude in practising. At first the noise issuing from my own 
body was alarming, for some of the vibrations were transmitted too inti- 
mately to my nucleus. By varying the density of the cytoplasm around, 
my “mouth” I managed to deaden the feedback until it was tolerable. 

Without letting Bondi in on my discovery I worked for several nights 
during his absence. My knowledge of the structure of the tongue was 
extremely slight, since I had only glimpsed it in Bondi’s mouth when he 
yawned or moistened his lips. 

Experimenting constantly, however, I soon learned to wheeze some 
discernible syllables; and then it was only a matter of acoustic adjustment, 
labial manipulation and modulation. 

My home now was the pld-fashioried bathtub in Bondi’s apartment. 
Unwilling to share the glory of his successful experiment with the biology 
department, he had kept the whole business a secret. I might insert here 
that this greed for recognition is one of the more incomprehensible qualities 
I find in the human race. Once a man’s belly is full and he has bedded a 
female, his next consideration is to seek money, power, position or even 

This insane hunger for attention is the most complicating factor in your 
lives. Always, you are at least once removed from complete happiness. 
This I attribute to your lack of — of that unity which is inherent in the 

Don’t smirk! Remember, my race outnumbers yours a billion to one. 
You boast of your rugged individuality, yet each of you is a collection of 
single cells lumped into a ridiculous symbiotic travesty. Your parts war 
against each other, and inevitably the whole colony perishes in the civil 
war you refer to as senility. 

Well, your precious Dr. Bondi was a particularly abominable example 
of the “colony” system. One moment he was petting me, feeding and 
encouraging me, and the next, he was subjecting me to endless tortures 
and indecencies out of the sadistic, schizophrenic nature of his perverted 

It was, therefore, with considerable satisfaction that I found it within 
my power to speak my mind to him. He came into the bathroom one 
morning, jabbed me and watched me quiver to make certain I was still 
alive, then turned to his shaving. 

I waited until his face was fully lathered and he was scraping his wrinkled 
neck with a straight-edge razor before I gave voice. 

Expanding my gullet, I drew a breath and said in a rumbling voice, “I 
hope you cut your throat, you son of a bitch!” 

He did, too, but not nearly as seriously as I had hoped. He was so dumb- 



founded he turned and just stared at me with blood and lather running down 
his undershirt. 

“You said something?” he asked at last. 

Disgusted with the insignificance of the wound I had been able to cause, 

I refused to answer until he got the electric prod and waved it. “Talk, damn 
you!” he demanded. 

I called him another name, and he was so elated that he dropped the prod. 
Instantly, I jammed out a tentacle from my ventral surface and drew 
the long, battery'filled weapon inside where I stowed it in a debris-vacuole. 

From this inauspicious beginning, our communication grew into endless 
conversations in which I expanded my vocabulary, and gained much 
useful knowledge. 

After a few weeks, Bondi suggested that I try assuming various shapes. 
The following experiments were abhorrent. When I refused to cooperate 
he cursed at my indolence, called me a slug and a slob and insisted that 
I earn my keep by obliging his whim. 

As you might guess, it is quite against an ameba’s nature to hold a given 
form for any period of time. But Bondi enforced his demands, not only 
with physical punishment, but also by refusing to answer my questions. 

As I said, my appetite for knowledge was voracious as a result of my subli- 
mated — you might say — sex urge. So when Bondi held out on me I 
finally relented. 

I formed myself into a sphere, a cube and a pyramid and then ran through 
a senseless series of polyhedral shapes. It occurred to him to show me some 
pictures of animals and make me simulate everything from an oversized 
mouse to a miniature polar bear, complete with long, white, hair-like 
cilia for fur. 

To facilitate this dull posturing, Bondi tilted a mirror at the end of my 
tub, so I could see myself. He was despondent at my lack of reaction to my 
own image. I can’t imagine what he expected. No ameba needs a mirror 
to visualize his appearance. A single glance at his departing brother satisfies 
any such curiosity. 

The mirror did help in my morphic exercises, however. Soon I was 
adept at playing “statue” for the unspeakable idiot. Hardest was supporting 
myself on the slender appendages which his artistry demanded. It takes 
time to build internal skeletal supports, time and an abundance of minerals. 

My exhaustion from these experiences caused me to tend to remain in 
whatever shape he left me. It was easier to remodel the pseudo-bones to new 
proportions than to reabsorb them and begin over each time. In this way 
I gradually overcame my aversion to retaining a given form. 

To keep me in my tub and prevent attempts to escape, Bondi vividly 



described the fate I would suffer if I were turned loose in civilization. I 
would be deemed a monster, even in my original form, and I would be 
attacked and destroyed. 

My nagging to be allowed outside the bathroom finally caused him 
to admit that he had two specific reasons for keeping me locked in. First, 
he said, he was afraid I would escape and find a pond or lake somewhere 
and go into immediate fission, breaking down until all my parts were 
microscopic again. 

I argued, honestly enough, that my reproducing days were over. Were 
I to begin dividing back to normal size, all my progeny would suffer into 
eternity new hungers and fears. 

The many unanswered questions that remained in my mind would be a 
dangerous legacy. Bondi had forced upon me a bite of the forbidden 
apple — this serpent in my Protozoan Garden of Eden. But I had no 
intention of repeating Adam’s mistake. Never would I visit this curse, this 
thirst for knowledge upon my innocent brothers. 

His second reason for delaying my egress to the outer world was vague. 
He merely said, “You aren’t quite ready yet.” 

He soothed my impatience by teaching me to read. Already familiar 
with the structure of the language, I lacked only vocabulary. When he 
discovered my ability for absolute recall, Bondi gave me a dictionary. This 
was my reward for forming myself into a reasonable resemblance to an ape. 

He kept me in this simian form, insisting that I spend a little longer on 
my “feet” each day until my skeletal structure was heavy enough to 
support me without sagging. 

He did not insist upon teeth, but he fed me copious portions of minerals 
to implement my “bones”. When I threatened to slump, un-mammal-like, 
or if I let my rump spread out in the tub, he would snatch away my dic- 

One day I discovered that my strength was greater than his; so when he 
tried to take the book from me I held onto it. He turned out the bathroom 
light from the outside switch and locked the door. 

Oh, yes, your brilliant Dr. Bondi had his depraved way with me regard- 
less of the discomfort and distress it cost me. 

My ability to read increased as I proceeded through the dictionary. By 
the time I had finished it, I could read, digest and absorb a whole page at 
a glance. Many of the words made no sense, of course, with no real-life 

The encyclopedia filled in the gaps wonderfully. Dr. Bondi rifSed the 
“A” volume before me one morning, and I quivered with anticipation. 
He hung up a tall portrait of a human form and said, “You will now spend 



two hours a day transforming yourself into an exact replica of this picture. 
Your reward for progress will be one volume of this set.”' 

I set to work with diligence. Before the first two-hour session was over 
I considered I had finished the chore. Dr. Bondi, when I called him, was of 
a different mind. He laughed at what he saw and said, “I want no sloppy 
approximations this time. Draw in that body hair! Your arms are not the 
same length, and your other proportions are all wrong. If you can read 
fine print, you can see this portrait inore clearly than that.” 

He slammed the door and I went back to work. When he returned he 
was far from satisfied, but he let me have Volume I of the wonderful set 
of books anyway. 

My skeleton was not difficult, for now I was used to the primate position. 
It was just a matter of altering proportions. The difficulty was my surface 
contours. Working from a two dimensional picture viewed from pseudo- 
eyes which were not at all accustomed to the evaluation of perspective, 
it was largely trial and error. 

With Volume II, I got a more specific criticism of my work. Bondi 
tacked up some detail drawings of various parts of the desired anatomy, 
and this helped. 

As we proceeded to refine the details of my physiognomy, my self- 
appointed Pygmalion became more and more picayunish in his demands. 
In spite of my infinite pains, he would snap, “Take up the slack there!” 
or, “Fill in that sink-hole!” He complained constantly at my lack of 
esthetic sense. If it wasn’t a thick ankle it was a drooping pseudo-mammary. 

In a heated argument over the latter organs, it emerged that I wasn’t 
supposed to copy the model too closely. He wanted me to “improve” upon 
these items. 

While I worked at perfecting such redundant adornments as fingernails, 
teeth, long, silky, blonde, ciliated filaments on my head and shorter “hair” 
for my eyebrows, lashes and so forth, Bondi accumulated articles of feminine 
clothing and made me get used to wearing them. 

My reward was the limited freedom of his apartment. Now I had access 
to his library. It was even worth stumbling around in high heels to have the 
run of Bondi’s reading collection. His tastes were quite catholic, and I 
worked my way through history, drama, detective novels and Shakespeare 

The human male’s concept of beauty gradually dawned upon me from 
the endless stacks of men’s magazines which he kept around his bachelor 
apartment. Slowly I deduced that the “good” doctor was striving to 
produce in my humanoid form those exterior refinements considered the 
essence of female pulchritude. 



It has always been assumed by the faculty of Minnegala University that 
Dr. Bondi was merely preparing me for presentation to the scientific world. 
Knowing well his flamboyant personality, they concluded that Bondi 
intended the disclosure to be as dramatic as he could contrive. 

Since he disclosed no such intentions to me, I have not attempted to 
confirm nor deny the verity of these assumptions. His timely fall of six 
stories to the concrete below his bedroom window one evening brought 
our — relationship to an abrupt conclusion. Thus extinction, as it must 
to all mere men, came to Dr. Hellos K. Bondi. 

After listening to his screams and viewing the crimson wreckage of his 
over-specialized cells below, I tried to return to my reading. An alarming 
thought disturbed me. I was a parasite, and my host was dead! 

No, I was not a parasite like my cousins who live in the intestines of man 
and cause dysentery. My dependency on him was more in the nature of a 
wife, the clever female of the species, who, in some inexplicable manner, 
induces her mate to bring her food and drink and to otherwise provide for 
her peculiar wants. 

Only I was even more dependent than that! Had not Bondi declared 
that I would be considered a monster by all others? When I ventured out 
to find my ration of horsemeat and vegetable debris, would they not kill 

The disproof of this vicious lie was manifest minutes later. Footsteps 
pounded down the hall, and the door to the apartment was rammed in by 
a broad-shouldered policeman. 

Two men in plain clothes held back a covey of gibbering neighbors, while 
the officer stopped before me and moved his mouth a dozen times without 
uttering a sound. 

He stared at my golden hair, my black nylon slip, the copy of Esquire 
on my lap, and my high-heel shoes, and seemed to find the sight incom- 

His entry had been so abrupt that I had no time to think. I simply sat 
and stared back. 

“Lady,” he said in a tight voice that sounded anything but menacing, 
“do you — live here?” 

Bondi had preferred that I speak in a soprano voice, but this person was 
not Bondi, and it was much less constrictive on my sensitive gullet to speak 
with full open throat. In a voice somewhat lower than the officer’s own I 
answered, “Yes, I live here.” 

Whether it was my words, my low tone of voice or just the fact that I 
failed to move my red-smeared lips when I spoke that galvanized the 
officer, I could not determine; but he wheeled and searched the whole 



apartment on the dead run. He returned sweating and puzzled. “Lady, 
don’t you realize that your — that — ” 

He went in and stared from the lethal bedroom window. He shouted 
down, “Are you sure that I. D. reads apartment 606?” Apparently the 
answer to his question failed to put him at ease, but he seemed to have 
reached some decision when he confronted me again. 

“I’m afraid I have pretty awful news for you. Miss — Mrs. Bondi. Your, 
uh, Mr. Bondi — he’s — no longer in his bedroom. He’s — downstairs.” 
He pointed down with a long, trembling finger. 

I said, “Yes?” I remembered to raise my voice. 

“Mam, you don’t understand,” he said, much agitated. “Mr. Bondi 
did not step out for a package of smokes. Now, if you’ll just slip into some- 
thing and come down to the station with us — ” 

Into just what I was supposed to slip he did not indicate, and when I 
failed to respond he rummaged through Bondi’s closets muttering, dear 
him, dear him! I owned no dresses. 

He came back empty-handed and hostile. After conferring softly with 
the two plain-clothes men, he set the fallen door in place and told me that 
a person called “The Captain” would have to check on this personally. 
I was to remain. An officer would guard my door from the outside, “so 
don’t try any funny stuff.” 

It was well past my feeding time now, so I rapped on the inside of the 
splintered door. 

The .guard said, “What do ya want?” 

“I need nourishment,” I told him. 

“Later, when the captain comes,” he said. 

“I need it now,” I insisted. “I’m beginning to attenuate.” 

There was a brief silence, then he asked, “That’s bad?” 

“Very,” I said. 

“Hmm,” he said. “There’s a kid out here. I’ll send him out for something. 
What would you like?” 

“The usual,” I told him. “Some carrot tops, potato peelings and coffee 
grounds. And the horsemeat, of course.” 

The background of murmuring voices died away out in the hall, and 
even the shuffling feet quieted. 

The guard muttered, “These beautiful dames, always sarcastic! Just 
for that she can go hungry.” 

He wouldn’t respond to my further requests. 

In order to keep me at a stable size, Bondi had rationed me severely, so 
that by the time the Captain arrived all I could think of was something to 
eat. The man with the gold-trimmed visor took a swift look around, threw 



one of Bondi’s trenchcoats about me and growled, “Come on, sweetie, 
down to H. Q. with you.” 

At the station I refused to answer questions. I kept demanding nourish- 
ment until finally they locked me into a cell and sent out for a tray. 

By the time I had eaten the hamburgers and French fries it was late, and 
they decided to delay questioning until morning. I spent a very restless 
night, for amebae rarely indulge in the comatose condition which most 
nearly approximates sleep except at times of reproduction — and nothing 
was further from my mind at the present. 

I paced the floor until morning. After a rather pallid meal I was brought 
before a judge for a hearing. He asked my name. Bondi had once called me 
“Adam,” but lately he had referred to me only as “Honey.” 

“My name is Adam Honey,” I said. 

The clerk looked at me, nodded and said, “Oh. Honey Adams,” and 
wrote it down. 

The judge said, “What is your occupation .f^” When I failed to answer he 
said, “What do you do.? What are you.?” 

“I’m an overgrown ameba,” I said straightforwardly. 

The police sergeant who had me by the elbow flushed and said, “And I’m 
a monkey’s uncle. Now show his honor some respect before he holds you in 

So much of the following conversation was in legal jargon and police 
idiom that it made no sense to me. However, certain phrases such as “pre- 
meditated homicide” and “hot seat” the matron later interpreted to me. 
Remembering Bondi’s electric prod, I was reasonably certain that the 
barbaric method would work equally well on me. 

So that night I flattened my profile temporarily and escaped through 
the bars, down the hall and out to the street while the matron was off get- 
ting me a bucket of water. 

Swiftly I learned that the streets of your cities after midnight are popu- 
lated entirely by males of extremely solicitous nature toward pretty females. 
It was quite warm, so I had not bothered to button and belt my trench coat. 

I won’t detail the series of surprising incidents which I encountered. 
Suffice it to say that after several distressing experiences, each of which 
rendered my male companion ultimately unconscious in a deep faint, I 
decided that my present form was a serious threat to my anonymity. 

In the gloom of some nameless hotel room, I set about changing my ap- 
pearance to that of a human male. The only face and form with which I was 
intimately familiar was that of the deceased Dr. Bondi. So, standing in 
front of the dresser mirror, and illuminated only by a flashing electric sign 
outside the window, I resorbed most of my long hair-like cilia, my excessive 



mammaries, which had grown pendulous in the excitement, and drew in 
the soft curves of my face to conform to the sharp nose and chin of my 
previous associate. 

It was a perfunctory job, but dressed in the male slacks, shirt and bow tie 
which I had stripped from my last victim, the effect was an improvement. 
Honey Adams was no more. 

In spite of my voluminous reading my knowledge of the customs of man 
were sketchy. I was aware that a system of barter involving currency and 
coin required one to engage in labor to secure food and a suitable environ- 

My wants were extremely elementary: To exist and to learn. Since the 
University was a center of learning, I decided I should become a professor 
such as Dr. Bondi had been. His earnings seemed adequate, and I knew of 
the wonderful access he had to the acres of bookshelves at the school. 

The pants which I wore had money in the pockets, so I engaged a taxi 
to take me to the Administration Building of the University of Minnegala. 
The driver delivered me in the pitch blackness of predawn, with the re- 
mark, “You’re a little early for classes, mister.” 

It had not occurred to me that such a magnificent institution would waste 
so much time in idleness, but it was so. I sat on the marble steps for hours 
before anyone showed up, but eventually I found myself in the office of 
President Prellknock. 

He was courteous but a little startled when I introduced myself as “Dr. 
Hellos Adams.” 

“That’s queer,” he said. “You not only look like a blond version of our 
deceased Dr. Bondi, but you have his same first name.” 

Then I realized that I had forgotten to re-pigment my hair. 

He remarked uneasily about the similarity at some length and finally 
asked, “What is the nature of your business. Dr. Adams?” 

“I need employment,” I told him. “I thought it would be nice to be a 
professor. I have a great desire for learning, and it would be convenient to 
be associated with a school in which so much erudition is concentrated.” 

Dr. Prellknock swallowed several times and asked mildly, “What are your 

I started to list my reading accomplishments. “I know the encyclopedia, 
the unabridged dictionary, the — ” 

“You l^w them?” 

“Verbatim. Every word,” I assured him. 

His face looked somewhat haggard. There were dark circles and swollen 
puffs under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept well. While he ruminated, my gaze 
wandered over his desk and was caught by a large pile of papers and books 



which looked sharply familiar. The top notebook was labelled, 

(The Culture of Macroscopic Amebae) 

Vol. 1. 

I deduced that Dr. Bondi’s private experimental records had been turned 
over to the President of the University, and that he had spent much of the 
night poring over them. 

He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. “You must forgive me. I have 
suifered several shocks in the past twenty-four hours — the death of Dr. 
Bondi — and, well, several other matters.” His eyes flicked to the pile of 

“The poor fellow,” he went on, “was quite insane. Extremely high moral 
character. Got mixed up with some woman. To justify himself, he invented 
an utterly fantastic story — a whole case history of an experiment he was 
supposed to have — ” He broke off. “This isn’t your affair, however.” 

“To the contrary,” I said. “I felt that Dr. Bondi’s sudden death would 
have left you with an opening in your faculty. It is his position for which 
I am applying.” 

I couldn’t know how cold-blooded and ghoulish my statement would 
sound. But underlying his expression of disapproval was an almost incredu- 
lous fascination in me. 

“You — you read it in the papers, I presume?” 

“No, sir,” I said. “I was present at the time of the — the accident. In 
fact, you might say I was instrumental.” 

“You?” The President became inarticulate, and there was horror in his 

So I explained further. “Dr. Bondi was displeased with me. He was mak- 
ing me practise my walk, and I couldn’t seem to get it right. Finally he 
explained, ‘You walk as if you had a rod up your spine!’ I responded that 
indeed I did. It was a long, tubular, electric prod with which he used to 
punish me, and which I had grasped and secreted within my protoplasm to 
prevent his abusing me with it. Well, he had forgotten, and he called me a 
liar, so to prove it I protruded the end of the prod out through the integu- 
ment between my shoulders. 

“Dr. Bondi was so enraged that he grasped it and jerked it most painfully 
from me. Then he brandished it, and I thought he was about to use it on 
me, so I struck out at him in self-defense. 

“The window was behind him,” I concluded. 

Dr. Prellknock was on his feet now, and his flesh was even whiter than 
my own before Dr. Bondi began feeding me carmine red for pigmenting 



“Then — then you are — ” He couldn’t finish. 

“I am Dr. Bondi’s macroscopic amebae,” I admitted. 

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” he demanded. 

“You didn’t ask me,” I pointed out. 

Ultimately I secured the position which I had requested, but not before 
every bulging-eyed, goateed, bespectaclM, long-fingered biologist in the 
world had poked at me, ogled, smelled, touched and listened futilely for 
my non-existent heartbeat. 

That was some 85 years ago, of course, and my present academic post is 
somewhat different these days. We have accomplished much in my field. 

As you know, all human diseases caused by microorganisms have long 
since been conquered, largely through my good offices. Man and microbe 
now live in complete symbiotic harmony to the ultimate benefit of both. 

Which brings us to the subject of this course in which you have enrolled. 
Tomorrow will begin the formal lectures on Introductions to Socio- Symbi- 
otic Relationships Between Man and the Protozoa. 

Those of you planning to pursue the field of bacteriology and protozool- 
ogy will, I feel, find my lectures and point of view quite rewarding. 

Thank you for your attention. Class is dismissed. 

** Chessplayers don't like fantasy^" says the hoy-genius Timothy Paul^ in 
Wilmar Shiras' classic In Hiding, "and nobody else likes chess," Well^ 
this thesis was pretty thoroughly disproved hy the enthusiasm of both 
chessplayers and fantasy readers for Charles L, Harness' The Chessplayers 
in our October issue; but we're still in sympathy with Timothy's other 
contention^ that" in through the looking glass, it wasn't a very good 
chess game^ and you couldn't see the relation of the moves to the story," 
Even as devout Carrollians^ we have felt with Timothy that The Chess- 
Game Story still needed to be written; and now Poul Anderson y bless himy 
has done ity combining a firstrate gamCy a touch of science fiction and his 
own incomparable romantic sweep into a tragic epic in which the chessboard 
becomes transmuted into Matthew Arnold's "darkling plain, swept with 
confused alarms of struggle and flight" 

The Immortal Qame 


The first trumpet sounded far and clear and brazen cold, and Rogard the 
Bishop stirred to wakefulness with it. Lifting his eyes, he looked through the 
suddenly rustling, murmuring line of soldiers, out across the broad plain of 
Cinnabar and the frontier, and over to the realm of leukas. 

Away there, across the somehow unreal red-and- black distances of the 
steppe, he saw sunlight flash on armor and caught the remote wild flutter of 
lifted banners. So it is war, he thought. So we must fight again. 

Again? He pulled his mind from the frightening dimness of that word. 
Had they ever fought before? 

On his left. Sir Ocher laughed aloud and clanged down the vizard on his 
gay young face. It gave him a strange, inhuman look, he was suddenly a 
featureless thing of shining metal and nodding plumes, and the steel echoed 
in his voice: “Ha, a fight! Praise God, Bishop, for I had begun to fear I 
would rust here forever.” 

Slowly, Rogard’s mind brought forth wonder. “Were you sitting and 
thinking — before now?” he asked. 

“Why — ” Sudden puzzlement in the reckless tones: “I think I was. . . . 



Was I?” Fear turning into defiance: “Who cares? Fve got some leukans 
to kill!” Ocher reared in his horse till the great metallic wings thundered. 

On Rogard’s right, Flambard the King stood, tall in crown and robes. 
He lifted an arm to shade his eyes against the blazing sunlight. “They are 
sending diomes, the royal guardsman, first,” he murmured. “A good man.” 
The coolness of his tone was not matched by the other hand, its nervous 
plucking at his beard. 

Rogard turned back, facing over the lines of Cinnabar to the frontier. 
DIOMES, the LEUKAN King’s own soldier, was running. The long spear 
flashed in his hand, his shield and helmet threw back the relentless light in a 
furious dazzle, and Rogard thought he could hear the clashing of iron. 
Then that noise was drowned in the trumpets and drums and yells from the 
ranks of Cinnabar, and he had only his eyes. 

DIOMES leaped two squares before coming to a halt on the frontier. He 
stopped then, stamping and thrusting against the Barrier which suddenly 
held him, and cried challenge. A muttering rose among the cuirassed soldiers 
of Cinnabar, and spears lifted before the flowing banners. 

King Flambard’s voice was shrill as he leaned forward and touched his 
own guardsman with his scepter. “Go, Carlon! Go to stop him!” 

“Aye, sire.” Carlon ’s stocky form bowed, and then he wheeled about and 
ran, holding his spear aloft, until he reached the frontier. Now he and 
DIOMES stood face to face, snarling at each other across the Barrier, and for a 
sick moment Rogard wondered what those two had done, once in an evil 
and forgotten year, that there should be such hate between them. 

“Let me go, sire!” Ocher’s voice rang eerily from the slit-eyed mask of 
his helmet. The winged horse stamped on the hard red ground, and the 
long lance swept a flashing arc. “Let me go next.” 

“No, no. Sir Ocher.” It was a woman’s voice. “Not yet. There’ll be 
enough for you and me to do, later in this day.” 

Looking beyond Flambard, the Bishop saw his Queen, Evyan the Fair, 
and there was something within him which stumbled and broke into fire. 
Very tall and lovely was the gray-eyed Queen of Cinnabar, where she stood 
in armor and looked out at the growing battle. Her sun-browned young face 
was coifed in steel, but one rebellious lock blew forth in the wind, and she 
brushed at it with a gauntleted hand while the other drew her sword snaking 
frorn its sheath. “Now may God strengthen our arms,” she said, and her 
voice was low and sweet. Rogard drew his cope tighter about him and turned 
his mitered head away with a sigh. But there was a bitter envy in him for 
Columbard, the Queen’s Bishop of Cinnabar. 

Drums thumped from the leukan ranks, and another soldier ran forth. 
Rogard sucked his breath hissingly in, for this man came till he stood on 



DiOMEs’ right. And the newcomer’s face was sharp and pale with fear. There 
was no Barrier between him and Carlon. 

“To his death,” muttered Flambard between his teeth. “They sent that 
fellow to his death.” 

Carlon snarled and advanced on the leukan. He had little choice — if 
he waited, he would be slain, and his King had not commanded him to wait. 
He leaped, his spear gleamed, and the leukan soldier toppled and lay 
emptily sprawled in the black square. 

“First blood!” cried Evyan, lifting her sword and hurling sunbeams from 
it. “First blood for us!” 

Aye, so, thought Rogard bleakly, but King mikillati had a reason for 
sacrificing that man. Maybe we should have let Carlon die, Carlon the bold, 
Carlon the strong, Carlon the lover of laughter. Maybe we should have let him 

And now the Barrier was down for Bishop asator of leukas, and he 
came gliding down the red squares, high and cold in his glistening white 
robes, until he stood on the frontier. Rogard thought he could see asator’s 
eyes as they swept over Cinnabar. The leukan Bishop was poised to rush in 
with his great mace should Flambard, for safety, seek to change with Earl 
Ferric as the Law permitted. 


There was no time to wonder what the Law was, or why it must be 
obeyed, or what had gone before this moment of battle. Queen Evyan had 
turned and shouted to the soldier Raddic, guardsman of her own Knight 
Sir Cupran: “Go! Halt him!” And Raddic cast her his own look of love, and 
ran, ponderous in his mail, up to the frontier. There he and asator stood, 
no Barrier between them if either used a flanking move. 

Goodl Oh, good, my Queen! thought Rog^d wildly. For even if asator 
did not withdraw, but slew Raddic, he would be in Raddic’s square, and his 
threat would be against a wall of spears. He will retreat, he will retreat — 

Iron roared as asator’s mace crashed through helm and skull and felled 
Raddic the guardsman. 

Evyan screamed, once only. “And I sent him! I sent him!” Then she 
began to run. 

“Lady!” Rogard hurled himself against the Barrier. He could not move, 
he was chained here in his square, locked and barred by a Law he did not 
understand, while his lady ran toward death. “O Evyan, Evyan!” 

Straight as a flying javelin ran the Queen of Cinnabar. Turning, straining 
after her, Rogard saw her leap the frontier and come to a halt by the Barrier 
which marked the left-hand bound of the kingdoms, beyond which lay only 
dimness to the frightful edge of the world. There she wheeled to face the dis- 



mayed ranks of leukas, and her cry drifted back like the shriek of a stoop- 
ing hawk: “mikillati! Defend yourself!’’ 

The thunder-crack of cheering from Cinnabar drowned all answer, but 
Rogard saw, at the very limits of his sight, how hastily King mikillati 
stepped from the line of her attack, into the stronghold of Bishop asator. 
Now, thought Rogard fiercely, now the white-robed ruler could never seek 
shelter from one of his Earls. Evyan had stolen his greatest shield. 

“Hola, my Queen!” With a sob of laughter. Ocher struck spurs into his 
horse. Wings threshed, blowing Rogard’s cope about him, as the Knight 
hurtled over the head of his own guardsman and came to rest two squares in 
front of the Bishop. Rogard fought down his own anger; he had wanted to be 
the one to follow Evyan. But Ocher was a better choice. 

Oh, much better! Rogard gasped as his flittering eyes took in the broad 
battlefield. In the next leap, Ocher could cut down diomes, and then be- 
tween them he and Evyan could trap mikillati! 

Briefly, that puzzlement nagged at the Bishop. Why should men die to 
catch someone else’s King? What was there in the Law that said Kings should 
strive for mastery of the world and — • 

“Guard yourself. Queen!” Sir merkon. King’s Knight of leukas, 
sprang in a move like Ocher’s. Rogard’s breath rattled in his throat with 
bitterness, and he thought there must be tears in Evyan’s bright eyes. 
Slowly, then, the Queen withdrew two squares along the edge, until she 
stood in front of Earl Ferric’s guardsman. It was still a good place to attack 
from, but not what the other had been. 

boan, guardsman of the leukan Queen dolora, moved one square for- 
ward, so that he protected great diomes from Ocher. Ocher snarled and 
sprang in front of Evyan, so that he stood between her and the frontier: 
clearing the way for her, and throwing his own protection over Carlon. 

MERKON jumped likewise, landing to face Ocher with the frontier be- 
tween them. Rogard clenched his mace and vision blurred for him; the 
leukans were closing in on Evyan. 

“Ulfar!” cried the King’s Bishop. “Ulfar, can you help her?” 

The stout old yeoman who was guardsman of the Queen’s Bishop nodded 
wordlessly and ran one square forward. His spear menaced Bishop asator, 
who growled at him — no Barrier between those two now! 

MERKON of leukas made another soaring leap, landing three squares in 
front of Rogard. “Guard yourself!” the voice belled from his faceless helmet. 
“Guard yourself, O Queen!” 

No time now to let Ulfar slay asator. Evyan’s great eyes looked wildly 
about her; then, with swift decision, she stepped between merkon and 
Ocher. Oh, a lovely move! Out of the fury in his breast, Rogard laughed. 



The guardsman of the leukan King’s Knight clanked two squares 
ahead, Ufting his spear against Ocher. It must have taken boldness thus 
to stand before Evyan herself; but the Queen of Cinnabar saw that if she 
cut him down, the Queen of leukas could slay her. “Get free. Ocher!” she 
cried. “Get away!” Ocher cursed and leaped from danger, landing in front 
of Regard’s guardsman. 

The King’s Bishop bit his lip and tried to halt the trembling in his limbs. 
How the sun blazed! Its light was a cataract of dry white fire over the, barren 
red and black squares. It hung immobile, enormous in the vague sky, and 
men gasped in their armor. The noise of bugles and iron, hoofs and wings 
and stamping feet, was loud under the small wind that blew across the world. 
There had never been anything but this meaningless war, there would never 
be aught else, and when Rogard tried to think beyond the moment when 
the fight had begun, or the moment when it would end, there was only an 
abyss of darkness. 

Earl RAF aeon of leukas took one ponderous step toward his King, a 
towering figure of iron readying for combat. Evyan whooped. “Ulfar!” she 
yelled. “Ulfar, your chance!” 

Columbard’s guardsman laughed aloud. Raising his spear, he stepped over 
into the square held by asator. The white-robed Bishop lifted his mace, 
futile and feeble, and then he rolled in the dust at Ulfar’s feet. The men of 
Cinnabar howled and clanged sword on shield. 

Rogard held aloof from triumph, asator, he thought grimly, had been 
expendable anyway. King mikillati had something else in mind. 

It was like a blow when he saw Earl raf aeon’s guardsman run forward 
two squares and shout to Evyan to guard herself. Raging, the Queen of 
Cinnabar withdrew a square to her rearward. Rogard saw sickly how un- 
protected King Flambard was now, the soldiers scattered over the field and 
the hosts of leukas marshaling. But Queen dolora, he thought with a wild 
clutching of hope. Queen dolora, her tall cold beauty was just as open to a 
strong attack. 

The soldier who had driven Evyan back took a leap across the frontier. 
“Guard yourself, O Queen!” he cried again. He was a small, hard-bitten, 
unkempt warrior in dusty helm and corselet. Evyan cursed, a bouncing 
soldierly oath, and moved one square forward to put a Barrier between her 
and him. He grinned impudently in his beard. 

It is ill for us, it is a bootless and evil day, Rogard tried once more to get out 
of his square and go to Eyyan’s aid, but his will would not carry him. The 
Barrier held, invisible and uncrossable, and the Law held, the cruel and 
senseless Law which said a man must stand by and watch his lady be slain, 
and he railed at the bitterness of it and lapsed into a gray waiting. , 



Trumpets lifted brazen throats, drums boomed, and Queen dolora of 
LEUKAs stalked forth into battle. She came high and white and icily fair, her 
face chiseled and immobile in its haughtiness under the crowned helmet, 
and stood two squares in front of her husband, looming over Carlon. Behind 
her, her own Bishop sorkas poised in his stronghold, hefting his mace in 
armored hands. Carlon of Cinnabar spat at dolora’s feet, and she looked at 
him from cool blue eyes and then looked away. The hot dry wind did not 
ruffle her long pale hair; she was like a statue, standing there and waiting. 

“Ocher,” said Evyan softly, “out of my way.” 

“I like not retreat, my lady,” he answered in a thin tone. 

“Nor I,” said Evyan. “But I must have an escape route open. We will 
fight again.” 

Slowly, Ocher withdrew, back to his own home. Evyan chuckled once, 
and a wry grin twisted her young face. 

Rogard was looking at her so tautly that he did not see what was happen- 
ing until a great shout of iron slammed his head around. Then he saw Bishop 
SORKAS, standing in Carlon’s square with a bloodied mace in his hands, and 
Carlon lay dead at his feet. 

Carlon^ your hands are empty ^ life has slipped from them and there is an un- 
ending darkness risen in you who loved the world. Goodnight^ my Carlon, good- 

“Madame — ” Bishop sorkas spoke quietly, bowing a little, and there 
was a smile on his crafty face. “I regret, madame, that — ah — ” 

“Yes. I must leave you.” Evyan shook her head, as if she had been struck, 
and moved a square backwards and sideways. Then, turning, she threw the 
glance of an eagle down the black squares to leukas’ Earl aracles. He 
looked away nervously, as if he would crouch behind the three soldiers who 
warded him. Evyan drew a deep breath sobbing into her lungs. 

Sir THEUTAS, dolora’s Knight, sprang from his stronghold, to place 
himself between Evyan and the Earl. Rogard wondered dully if he meant 
to kill Ulfar the soldier; he could do it now. Ulfar looked at the Knight who 
sat crouched, and hefted his spear and waited for his own weird. 


The Bishop leaped, and for a moment there was fire-streaked darkness 
before his eyes. 

“Rogard, to me! To me, and help sweep them from the world!” 

Evyaris voice. 

She stood in her scarred and dinted armor, holding her sword aloft, and 
on that smitten field she was laughing with a new-born hope. Rogard could 
not shout his reply. There were no words. But he raised his mace and ran. 

The black squares slid beneath his feet, footfalls pounding, jarring his 



teeth, muscles stretching with a resurgent glory and all the world singing. 
At the frontier, he stopped, knowing it was Evyan’s will though he could 
not have said how he knew. Then he faced about, and with clearing eyes 
looked back over that field of iron and ruin. Save for one soldier. Cinnabar 
was now cleared of leukan forces, Evyan was safe, a counterblow was 
readying like the first whistle of hurricane. Before him were the proud 
banners of leukas — now to throw them into the dust! Now to ride with 
Evyan into the home of mikillati! 

“Go to it, sir,” rumbled Ulfar, standing on the Bishop’s right and looking 
boldly at the white Knight who could slay him, “Give ’em hell from us.” 

Wings beat in the sky, and theutas soared down to land on Regards’ 
left. In the hot light, the blued metal of his armor was like running water. 
His horse snorted, curveting and flapping its wings; he sat it easily, the lance 
swaying in his grasp, the blank helmet turned to Flambard. One more such 
leap, reckoned Regard wildly, and he would be able to assail the King of 
Cinnabar. Or — no — a single spring from here and he would spit Evyan on 
his lance. 

And there is a Barrier between us! 

“Watch yourself. Queen!” The arrogant leukan voice boomed hollow 
out of the steel mask. 

“Indeed I will. Sir Knight!” There was only laughter in Evyan’s tone. 
Lightly, then, she sped up the row of black squares. She brushed by Re- 
gard, smiling at him as she ran, and he tried to smile back but his face was 
stiffened. Evyan, Evyan, she was plunging alone into her enemy’s homeland! 

Iron belled and clamored. The white guardsman in her path toppled and 
sank at her feet. One fist lifted strengthlessly, and a dying shrillness was in 
the dust: “Curse you, curse you, mikillati, curse you for a stupid fool, 
leaving me here to be slain — no, no, no — ” 

Evyan bestrode the body and laughed again in the very face of Earl 
ARACLES. He cowered back, licking his lips — he could not move against her, 
but she could annihilate him in one more step. Beside Rogard, Ulfar 
whooped, and the trumpets of Cinnabar howled in the rear. 

Now the great attack was launched! Rogard cast a fleeting glance at 
Bishop SORKAS. The lean white-coped form was gliding forth, mace swinging 
loose in one hand, and there was a little sleepy smile on the pale face. No 
dismay — ? sorkas halted, facing Rogard, and smiled a little wider, skinning 
his teeth without humor. “You can kill me if you wish,” he said softly. 
“But do you?” 

For a moment Rogard wavered. To smash that head — 1 

“Rogard! Rogard, to me!” 

Evyan’s cry jerked the King’s Bishop around. He saw now what her 



plan was, and it dazzled him so that he forgot all else, leukas is ours! 

Swiftly he ran. diomes and boan howled at him as he went between them, 
brushing impotent spears against the Barriers. He passed Queen dolora, 
and her lovely face was as if ^ast in steel, and her eyes followed him as he 
charged over the plain of leukas. Then there was no time for thinking, 
Earl RAFAEON loomed before him, and he jumped the last boundary into 
the enemy’s heartland. 

The Earl lifted a meaningless ax. The Law read death for him, and Ro- 
gard brushed aside the feeble stroke. The blow of his mace shocked in his 
own body, slamming his jaws together, rafaeon crumpled, falling slowly, 
his armor loud as he struck the ground. Briefly, his fingers clawed at the 
iron-hard black earth, and then he lay still. 

They have slain Raddic and Cation — we have three guardsmen^ a Bishops 
and an Earl — Now we need only be butchers! Evyan^ Evyan, warrior Queen^ 
this is your victory! 

DIOMES of leukas roared and jumped across the frontier. Futile, futile, 
he was doomed to darkness. Evyan’s lithe form moved up against aragles, 
her sword flamed and the Earl crashed at her feet. Her voice was another 
leaping brand: “Defend yourself. King!” 

Turning, Rogard grew aware that mikillati himself had been right be- 
side him. There was a Barrier between the two men — but mikillati had 
to retreat from Evyan, and he took one step foreward and sideways. Peer- 
ing into his face, Rogard felt a sudden coldness. There was no defeat there, 
it was craft and knowledge and an unbending steel will — what was leukas 

Evyan tossed her head, and the wind fluttered the lock of hair like a rebel 
banner. “We have them, Rogard!” she cried. 

Far and faint, through the noise and confusion of battle. Cinnabar’s 
bugles sounded the command of her King. Peering into the haze, Rogard 
saw that Flambard was taking precautions. Sir theutas was still a menace, 
where he stood beside sorkas. Sir Cupran of Cinnabar flew heavily over 
to land in front of the Queen’s Earl’s guardsman, covering the route 
THEUTAS must follow to endanger Flambard. 

Wise, but — Rogard looked again at mikillati’s chill white face, and 
it was as if a breath of cold blew through him. Suddenly he wondered why 
they fought. For victory, yes, for mastery over the world — but when the 
battle had been won, what then? 

He couldn’t think past that moment. His mind recoiled in horror he 
could not name. In that instant he knew icily that this was not the first war 
in the world, there had been others before, and there would be others again. 
Victory is death. 



But Evyan, glorious Evyan, she could not die. She would reign over all 
the world and — 

Steel blazed in Cinnabar, merkon of leukas came surging forth, one 
tigerish leap which brought him down on Ocher’s guardsman. The soldier 
screamed, once, as he fell under the trampling, tearing hoofs, but it was lost 
in the shout of the leukan Knight: “Defend yourself, Flambard! Defend 
yourself I” 

Rogard gasped. It was like a blow in the belly. He had stood triumphant 
over the world, and now all in one swoop it was brought toppling about him. 
THEUTAS shook his lance, sorkas his mace, diomes raised a bull’s bellow — 
somehow, incredibly somehow, the warriors of leukas had entered Cinna- 
bar and were thundering at the King’s own citadel. 

“No, no — ” Looking down the long empty row of squares, Rogard saw 
that Evyan was weeping. He wanted to run to her, hold her close and shield 
her against the falling world, but the Barriers were around him. He could 
not stir from his square, he could only watch. 

Flambard cursed lividly and retreated into his Queen’s home. His men 
gave a shout and clashed their arms — there was still a chance! 

No, not while the Law bound men, thought Rogard, not while the Bar- 
riers held. Victory was ashen, and victory and defeat alike were darkness. 

Beyond her thinly smiling husband. Queen dolora swept forward. 
Evyan cried out as the tall white woman halted before Rogard ’s terrified 
guardsman, turned to face Flambard where he crouched, and called to him: 
“Defend yourself. King!” 

“No — no — you fool!” Rogard reached out, trying to break the Bar- 
rier, clawing at mikillati. “Can’t you see, none of us can win, it’s death for 
us all if the war ends. Call her back!” 

MIKILLATI ignored him. He seemed to be waiting. 

And Ocher of Cinnabar raised a huge shout of laughter. It belled over the 
plain, dancing joyous mirth, and men lifted weary heads and turned to the 
young Knight where he sat in his own stronghold, for there was youth and 
triumph and glory in his laughing. Swiftly, then, a blur of steel, he sprang, 
and his winged horse rushed out of the sky on dolora herself. She turned to 
meet him, lifting her sword, and he knocked it from her hand and stabbed 
with his own lance. Slowly, too haughty to scream, the white Queen sank 
under his horse’s hoofs. 

And MIKILLATI smiled. 

“/ seCy'" nodded the visitor, Individual computers, each controlling its own 
robot piece by a tight beam, and all the computers on a given side linked to form 
a sort of group-mind constrained to obey the rules of chess and makp the best 



possible moves. Very nice. And its a pretty cute notion of yourSy making the 
robots loo\ like medieval armies.'^ His glance studied the tiny figures where they 
moved on the oversized board under one glaring floodlight. 

“OA, that s pure frippery f said the scientist. '"'‘This is really a serious research 
project in multiple computerdinkages. By letting them play game after game y Fm 
getting some valuable datat^ 

'‘At s a lovely set-up t'' said the visitor admiringly. '‘'‘Do you realize that in this 
particular contest the two sides are reproducing one of the great classic games?'''' 

“ Whyy no. Is that a fact?'" 

"Yes. It was a match between Anderssen and Kieseritskyy back ^ forget 

the year y but it was quite some time ago. Chess books often refer to it as the Im- 
mortal Game. So your computers must share many of the properties of a 
human brain." 

'‘'‘Welly they're complex things y all right f admitted the scientist. "Not all their 
characteristics are known yet. Sometimes my chessmen surprise even me." 

"Hm." The visitor stooped over the board. "Notice how they're jumping 
around inside their squaresy waving their armSy batting at each other with their 
weapons?" He paused y then murmured slowly: "I wonder — I wonder if your 
computers may not have consciousness. If they might not have — minds F 

"Dorit get fantastic f snorted the scientist. 

"But how do you know?" persisted the visitor. "‘Look, your feedback ar- 
rangement is closely analogous to a human nervous sytem. How do you know 
that your individual computers] even if they are constrained by the group linkagey 
don't have individual personalities? How do you know that their electronic 
senses don't interpret the game aSy ohy as an interplay of free will and necessity; 
how do you know they don't receive the data of the moves as their own equivalent 
of bloody sweaty and tears?" He shuddered a little. ' 

"Nonsense'' grunted the scientist. "They're only robots. Now — Heyl 
hook Look move!" 

Bishop SORKAS took one step ahead, into the black square adjoining 
Flambard’s. He bowed and smiled. “The war is ended,” he said. 

Slowly, very slowly, Flambard looked about him. sorkas, merkon, 
THEUTAS, they were crouched to leap on him wherever he turned; his own 
men raged helpless against the Barriers; there was no place for him to go. 

He bowed his head. “I surrender,” he whispered. 

Rogard looked across the red and the black to Evyan. Their eyes met, 
and they stretched out their arms to each other. 

"Checkmate'' said the scientist. "That game's over" 

He crossed the room to the switchboard and turned off the computers. 

Here*s a genuine novelty for you: in the author s words y ** undoubtedly the 
only piece of published Asimov that no s. f. aficionado has ever seen*' 
(Though we doubt if very many aficionados have seen what his colleagues 
at Boston University consider the only important published Asimov — 
a little opus called biochemistry and human metabolism.) This short- 
short story was written for a syndicated newspaper page for children; but Mr. 
Asimov, like every good writer of children s stories, is talking not only to 
the children but to all of us. His characters here are young, but the idea be- 
hind the story is as timeless as it is acute. 

Tfhe Fun Fhey Had 


Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary. On the page headed 
May 17, 2155, she wrote, “Today Tommy found a real book!” 

It was a very old book. Margie’s grandfather once said that when he was 
a little boy his grandfather told him that there was a time when all stories 
were printed on paper. 

They turned the pages, which were yellow and crinkly, and it was awfully 
funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were 
supposed to — on a screen, you know. And then, when they turned back to 
the page before, it had the same words on it that it had had when they read 
it the first time. 

“Gee,” said Tommy, “what a waste. When you’re through with the book, 
you just throw it away, I guess. Our television screen must have had a 
million books on it and it’s good for plenty more. I wouldn’t throw it 

“Same with mine,” said Margie. She was eleven and hadn’t seen as many 
telebooks as Tommy had. He was thirteen. 

She said, “Where did you find it?'* 

“In my house.” He pointed without looking, because he was busy reading. 
“In the attic.” 

“What’s it about.?” 

Copyright /95/» hy NEA Service^ Inc. 





Margie was scornful. “School? What’s there to write about school? I 
hate school.” Margie always hated school, but now she hated it more than 
ever. The mechanical teacher had been giving her test after test in geography 
and she had been doing worse and worse until her mother had shaken her 
head sorrowfully and sent for the County Inspector. 

He was a round little man with a red face and a whole box of tools with 
dials and wires. He smiled at her and gave her an apple, then took the 
teacher apart. Margie had hoped he wouldn’t know how to put it together 
again, but he knew how all right and after an hour or so, there it was again, 
large and black and ugly with a big screen on which all the lessons were 
shown and the questions were asked. That wasn’t so bad. The part she 
hated most was the slot where she had to put homework and test papers. 
She always had to write them out in a punch code they made her learn when 
she was six years old, and the mechanical teacher calculated the mark in no 

The Inspector had smiled after he was finished and patted her head. He 
said to her mother, “It’s not the little girl’s fault, Mrs. Jones. I think the 
geography sector was geared a little too quick. Those things happen some- 
times. I’ve slowed it up to an average ten-year level. Actually, the overall 
pattern of her progress is quite satisfactory.” And he patted Margie’s head 

Margie was disappointed. She had been hoping they would take the 
teacher away altogether. They had once taken Tommy’s teacher away for 
nearly a month because the history sector had blanked out completely. 

So she said to Tommy, “Why would anyone write about school?” 

Tommy looked at her with very superior eyes. “Because it’s not our kind 
of school, stupid. This is the old kind of school that they had hundreds and 
hundreds of years ago.” He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully. 
Centuries ago.” 

Margie was hurt. “Well, I don’t know what kind of school they had all 
that time ago.” She read the book over his shoulder for a while, then said, 
“Anyway, they had a teacher.” 

“Sure they had a teacher, but it wasn’t a regular teacher. It was a man.” 

“A man? How could a man be a teacher?” 

“Well, he just told the boys and girls things and gave them homework 
and asked them questions.” 

“A man isn’t smart enough.” 

“Sure he is. My father knows as much as my teacher.” 

“He can’t. A man can’t know as much as a teacher.” 

“He knows almost as much I betcha.” 



Margie wasn’t prepared to dispute that. She said, “I wouldn’t want a 
strange man in my house to teach me.” 

Tommy screamed with laughter, “You don’t know much, Margie. The 
teachers didn’t live in the house. They had a special building and all the 
kids went there.” 

“And all the kids learned the same thing?” 

“Sure, if they were the same age.” 

“But my mother says a teacher has to be adjusted to fit the mind of each 
boy and girl it teaches and that each kid has to be taught differently.” 

“Just the same they didn’t do it that way then. If you don’t like it, you 
don’t have to read the book.” 

“I didn’t say I didn’t like it,” Margie said quickly. She wanted to read 
about those funny schools. 

They weren’t even half finished when Margie’s mother called, “Margie! 

Margie looked up. “Not yet, mamma.” 

“Now,” said Mrs. Jones. “And it’s probably time for Tommy, too.” 

Margie said to Tommy, “Can I read the book some more with you after 

“Maybe,” he said, nonchalantly. He walked away whistling, the dusty 
old book tucked beneath his arm. 

Margie went into the schoolroom. It was right next to her bedroom, and 
the mechanical teacher was on and waiting for her. It was always on at the 
same time every day except Saturday and Sunday, because her mother 
said little girls learned better if they learned at regular hours. 

The screen was lit up, and it said: “Today’s arithmetic lesson is on the 
addition of proper fractions. Please insert yesterday’s homework in the 
proper slot.” 

Margie did so with a sigh. She was thinking about the old schools they 
had when her grandfather’s grandfather was a little boy. All the kids from 
the whole neighborhood came, laughing and shouting in the schoolyard, 
sitting together in the schoolroom, going home together at the end of the 
day. They learned the same things so they could help one another on the 
homework and talk about it. 

And the teachers were people. . . . 

The mechanical teacher was flashing on the screen: “When we add the 
fractions 3^ and 34 — ” 

Margie was thinking about how the kids must have loved it in the old 
days. She was thinking about the fun they had. 


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